Mental illness is directly associated with body image issues and eating disorders.
The ways in which social media influence an individuals perception of their body image is often consuming and possessive, because an obsession with the societal standards of beauty become a validating force in a person’s self-worth.
Psychological disorders such as eating disorders, depression and anxiety are some of the more prominent illnesses that have been linked to social media activity, though many others exist.
Pilieci (2012, N. Pag) discusses social media websites and their affiliation with mental illnesses, specifically Facebook. He explains how studies have determined that teenage individuals who are frequent users of Facebook demonstrate anti-social behavior, and that overuse of Facebook and other social media websites make users more susceptible to anxiety and depression.
The relations that exist between social media use and mental illness are directly related to body image issues because mental illness often acts as a segue into the progression of body distortion.
In Pilieci’s article, Amanda Forest, a graduate student who is active in the psychology department at the University of Waterloo, states that based on her studies she has discovered that individuals dealing with mental illness such as anxiety or low self-esteem are intrigued by Facebook because they are able to avoid person-person social interactions. She also discovered that users with mental illness and low self-esteem were disliked because of their display of negative emotion.
This discovery reveals a dangerous cycle. Individuals make use of social media websites to heighten their sense of self-esteem, though in doing so are often discouraged by other users because of their postings and comments which then diminishes their self-esteem.
So, while many people believe social media is the answer to strengthening body image and perceptions of self, it often does the opposite, which in turn leads to the development of mental illnesses like anxiety and depression.
Mental illness and body image go hand-in-hand. Mental illness can lead to body image problems, and body image problems can lead to mental illness. The use of social media often influences the development of both issues, which unveils a harmful connection between social media and mental illness.
Pilieci, Vito. “Is Social Media Harming Our Mental Health, Researchers Wonder?” 2012. N. Pag. National Post. Web. 2 March 2015.