Instagram and its impact on mental health

Instagram and its impact on mental health

"Please, give me I like this photo. I put on makeup, put on my hair, put on a tight dress and a large and uncomfortable jewel ... I took 50 photos until I got one that I thought you might like and edited it for hours in different applications, so you can feel some of your social approval"Essena O'Neill

Used correctly, Instagram can be a fun social network that connects us with other people and allows us to express ourselves. But if we dig a little deeper, it is not difficult to check his other face: a catalog of idyllic images, dream lives, perfect bodies and an imposed happiness made up with valencia filters that remind us through a handful of pixels, especially people more vulnerable, how imperfect our real lives can be.

We must not forget that in most cases, what these images transmit to us are nothing more than a fictional product, a showcase of Chinese shadows that only project an idealized appearance that we vaguely perceive behind the curtain that hides real life. And in that real life that we don't show, chasing the dream of perfection, you can find a strong need for social approval that overrides our personality and our true psychological and emotional needs.


  • 1 Instagram as a thermometer of our worth
  • 2 real cases
  • 3 The social network with the worst impact for young people
  • 4 Not everything is negative, if you learn to make good use of it

Instagram as a thermometer of our worth

Instagram has grown exponentially, closing 2017 with 800 million users and triumphing especially among the youngest population. The social network in which the selfie reigns, has configured its own space and language that few teenagers do not know: self exposure and immediate reinforcement through likes, comments and followers; figures that sometimes end up being confused with a "sample" of our personal validity and that can generate true anxiety states if they are not experienced from a certain distance and self-control.

The search for identity can be collapsed in the face of the continuous demands of a hyperdemanding and constantly changing society. The sublimation of the "me" and the constant need for approval that rewards the narcissism and the obsession with social attention can also damage self-esteem and normal functioning in daily life by promoting apathy, existential vacuum and lack of motivation to study or interact with others, among other activities.

Real cases

When we talk about the negative consequences that overexposure can bring to this social network, we not only talk about consumers, but also about those who expose their lives with total dedication, turning their image into a product that becomes their way of life and with which they get constant feedback: the influencers.

Very commented are cases like those of the influencer Essena O'Neill, a young Australian with thousands of followers who after suffering the negative impacts that this way of life exerted on her psychological health, decided to end the farce by throwing reflections to her fans in which she exposed the lack of reality that she showed in her apparently idyllic photos and the constant suffering that all these demands had generated with respect to their aesthetic insecurities, his self-concept and his obsession for the perfection and approval of others.

Another tragic case is that of the young woman Celia Fuentes, that despite showing images that showed an exemplary life to hundreds of followers, suffered from insecurities, anxiety and depression, which according to their closest friends, had been enhanced by the demanding world of fashion on Instagram and that unfortunately, made End your life recently.

The social network with the worst impact for young people

A recent British study conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health, has found that Instagram is the social network that has the worst impact on the mental health of young people. In the survey conducted with 1479 participants between 14-24 years old, Instagram was found to be the social network most related to aesthetic insecurities, insomnia, depression, bullying or FOMO (fear of missing out), a syndrome related to feeling of missing things and being excluded, which can permanently bind us to networks compulsively.

Not everything is negative, if you learn to make good use of it

However, the social network is not only associated with negative concepts, Instagram scores high in terms of self expression and self identity and 70% of respondents claimed to have found support in difficult situations, as well as helped them to socialize. It all depends on the degree of awareness with which it is used and of the values ​​and strengths that users have, which tend to be more vulnerable against younger age.

On the other hand, according to a study carried out by Harvard and Vermont professors, several characteristics of our profiles in this network can be an indicator of behaviors related to depressive disorders, finding that users who usually publish more daily posts with dark, gray and bluish tones and with a predominance of faces, are prone to suffer from this condition. Thus, Instagram can be a tool that helps us detect this problem if good practice is made of it.

As we explain, used with prudence and realism, the social network can be a good way to have fun and find people close to us. It is necessary to educate and raise awareness among the youngest to learn to differentiate reality fiction and to value other aspects of life that give them a healthier and more true concept of themselves. But When real life begins to be left before the fictional universe that is imposed through the screen, it is time to turn off the phone, stop comparing ourselves and live.