Social media and internet technologies have helped to transform the way we communicate with each other, but they can also help us to gain control over our mental health.
Social media is the primary tool for many people to manage their stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.
But new research from University of California, San Francisco, and the University of Washington suggests that social media use can also be used to mask and control anxiety and depression.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), suggests that people who use social media to hide their anxiety and mood disorders may feel more comfortable sharing their symptoms to others, and that this may have a positive impact on public health.
In their study, the researchers compared people who used social media as a mask to those who did not, and found that people using social media masks were significantly less likely to be diagnosed with depression, compared to people who did the same thing.
“This study is important because it shows that social-media use masks mental health disorders, and there’s evidence to suggest that this might be a useful approach for people who have these disorders,” said study author Daniel Karp, a doctoral student in psychiatry at UCSF.
The team used data from a nationally representative survey of more than 7,000 people.
Researchers asked people about their mental health and social disorders, including anxiety, panic attacks, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), obsessive-type personality disorder (OTPPD), and other mood disorders.
They also asked them about their use of social media.
The researchers found that those who used masks were twice as likely as those who didn’t to have anxiety and two-thirds as likely to have OCD.
People who used masking to hide anxiety and other psychological conditions were more likely to also have a psychiatric disorder such as OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder, and other depression.
Social-media masking may not just be a mask for some people, but it may be a way to control anxiety in others, said Karp.
“We’re seeing that social masking is a tool of control and manipulation for people, and it’s a way for people to hide a lot of the real problems they’re experiencing,” he said.
“People who use masks have a lot to hide.”
In fact, the masking was associated with an increased risk of anxiety disorders such as OCD, anxiety disorder in adults, and depression in adults.
This may be because masking can help people feel more like they’re being watched, and masking masks can be a “distress signal,” said Kephart.
The masking mask may also give people a false sense of control over their lives, said lead author Karp: “People feel a lot better knowing that they’re not being watched and are just able to be themselves.”
The researchers are currently studying whether masking has other effects on people who are more likely than others to use social-networking sites.
They hope to further investigate this by comparing people who mask with people who do not, but are also at greater risk for mental disorders.
The findings suggest that masking, masking alone, and social maskings may be effective for people with depression and anxiety disorders.
“In terms of people who need to mask their symptoms, maskings have the potential to be a really effective tool for a lot more people,” said lead study author Elizabeth Karp of UCSF School of Medicine.
“That’s what we want to find out.”
The research was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.
The lead author of the study is Elizabeth Kephardt, an assistant professor in UCSF’s Department of Psychiatry.
The UCSF Department of Psychology and Human Behavior conducts research on the social and emotional health of individuals, families, and communities.
The research also was supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
The University of Southern California, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and the California Institute for Integral Studies are also supported by grants from the Howard Johnson Foundation.