TYLER, Texas — Today, rates of depressive episodes in adolescents and young adults in the United States are up 50 percent or more than they were in the early 2000’s.
This is according to a study the National Psychological Association released last week, in which they suggest these unfortunate trends are because of lack of sleep, and the rise of electronic communication like social media.
According to the study, based on data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, major depressive episodes increased in Americans age 12 to 17 by 52 percent between 2005 and 2017, and age 18 to 25 by 63 percent from 2009 to 2017.
Dr. Ushimbra Buford is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler, and the Training Director for the General Psychiatry program.
He says social media isn't solely to blame, but it is a contributor.
"Do I want to say that it’s the main cause or that it’s a huge contributor, I don’t feel comfortable going there, but do I see it as contributing? 100 percent," said Buford.
Dr. Buford says bullying has evolved in the age of social media.
"Bullying used to be something that was location specific, you were at school being bullied you were outside with your friends being bullied, but now it chases you everywhere you go," said Buford
In addition to online bullying, there are also social pressures that come along with being on these different media platforms.
"On social media, almost everything they’re seeing is fake, in a sense. That is not the picture of this individual, it’s an altered picture with a lot of filters used. So not only are they trying to keep up with the appearance but they’re keeping up with appearance that’s not even realistic," said Buford.
Yes, Dr. Buford is a psychiatrist, but he is also a parent, and he has advice on how to supervise your children while they navigate social media.
"I tell parents, you need to know what your children are doing. Do not feel bad about keeping an eye, a close eye on who they’re talking to, what things are being said," said Buford.
And when it comes to anyone using social media, Buford says you need to use moderation, and realize there’s more than the apps on your phone.
"Like anything, it shouldn’t be the basis of your life. There is so much more in this world that it should just be a perk," said Buford.