Switch off social apps on Valentine’s Day

DATING can be a trigger for some people with an anxiety condition and cause extra stress for some in the social media age.

Although Valentine’s Day is a romantic day for many couples, as a GP I have noticed such days can add fuel to the fire for people who are having trouble with relationships.

Some people who have mental health issues find that online dating really sets off their social anxieties, feelings of inadequacy and fear of rejection.

Anxiety affects one in four Australians – twice as many as depression – and research shows one in three people take a year or more before recognising their symptoms as anxiety.

The tone and nature of social media and online dating sites or apps caused understandable issues for some of my patients, especially those who experienced anxiety.

Some people experiencing anxiety conditions avoid social situations or even dates because they find the experience brings on their anxiety. 

This can sometimes lead to social isolation, which can further compromise a person’s mental health.

It could be useful to balance time spent socialising online with time spent socialising offline.

In my experience, for some people there is an obsessive and addictive quality to some of their social media behaviour.

This can manifest as frequent checking for likes and approval comments, when their time might be better spent going and meeting some people face to face.

Sometimes, we can lose perspective on the big picture and get caught up with the idea that everyone else’s lives are so perfect based on social media posts. 

This can feed into unhealthy comparisons and an unrealistic benchmark for their own life.

And if in doubt, you can always take a social media holiday.

Dr Grant Blashki,

beyondblue’s lead clinical adviser 

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