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March 29, 2022 | Dr.Amna Zubair

Mental Health: What Is Doomscrolling And How Can We Stop It?

What is Doomscrolling?

Doomscrolling is defined as spending excessive time scrolling through the news of negative events on the internet. The term gained popularity in recent years due to the global pandemic caused by COVID 19. It was noticed that people spent an abundant amount of their time surfing through bad news or negative events during their professional or personal lives.

Surfing through the internet or social media is common, but spending long hours viewing information or opinions on events of downfall can have multiple effects on your mental health. People post all sorts of things on social media platforms, which may trigger stress or anxiety. Despite the negative effects, some people find themselves incapable of looking through such negative news, thus entering into a vicious cycle.

How Can Doomscrolling Affect Your Mental Health?

Scrolling through the internet for long hours has been indicated to have negative effects on your health and efficient performance, whatever the type of content it may be. But the surge of medical, political, and social problems has increased the amount of such content across media platforms that showcase the bad happenings across the world. Doomscrolling through this type of content can influence your perceptions of the world and the living environments.

Following are some of the common effects of doomscrolling on your mental health:

Reinforcement of negative emotions: When you feel stressed or depressed, scrolling through content that validates your feelings can feel satisfactory. As a result of doomscrolling, you may feel even more down. Hence the vicious cycle continues. 

Increased panic or anxiety: Doomscrolling can create panic on individual and community levels, even if the actual problem is manageable. This panic or anxiety can affect your performance in both your personal and professional lives. 

Exacerbated mental disorders: Research indicated that mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety disorders, panic attacks, etc., peaked during COVID 19 pandemic. This can be attributed to doomscrolling through an endless array of bad news. If you had any pre-existing mental illness, doomscrolling could worsen that condition. 

Sleep disturbances: It has been noticed that people often surf through the internet before going to sleep. Hours and hours of doomscrolling can have severe effects on your sleep routine. Sleep hours may get reduced, and the quality of sleep declines. This can also contribute to increased depression and anxiety during awake hours.

Feeling lost or confused: If you scroll through conflicting opinions for a long time, it can also change your perception of particular subjects. Often people feel lost, confused, or at unease because they cannot wholly comprehend the happenings around them.

Disturbed cognitive functions: Doomscrolling can decrease your focus, lower your attention level and increase stress. This may affect daily routine activities such as studying, driving, working on projects, etc., and can also influence your appetite.

How to Stop Doomscrolling?

If you have a habit of doomscrolling, acceptance of this problem is the first step towards its management. There are multiple ways by which you can limit the consumption of negative content to avoid its effects on your health. 

Most smartphones have an option by which you can limit your screen time. If your phone does not have such an option, there are various free apps available that can help you limit your screen time and help avoid the consumption of negative news and information. 

Try to avoid using your phone before you sleep or right after you wake up. Peaceful sleep hours will promote your mental wellbeing and improve your concentration. If you have difficulty falling asleep, look for soothing music or breathing techniques to help relax your brain and body.

Engaging in healthy activities such as exercise, meditation, outdoor walks, etc., can also be beneficial in reducing doomscrolling and promoting peaceful sleep. 

If you have any pre-existent mental health illness, it is best to consult a mental health expert to receive proper counseling and treatment measures. It is important to break the addictive cycle of doomscrolling, especially if you’re prone to develop stress, anxiety, or panic attacks. Seeking support from your close ones and professional health experts can help manage your mental health conditions.

At CURA4U specialty clinics, you can get a consultation with top psychiatrists and psychologists as quickly as the next day! Most of our consultations are provided within 24-48 hours of appointment booking. This ensures you get the care you need when you need it. Visit cura4u for further details on medical conditions, diagnostic tests, and online consultation. Register yourself and your loved ones today for optimum healthcare services!

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Dr.Amna Zubair

Dr.Amna Zubair is a general dentist (BDS, RDS) and medical content writer. She has also gained a diploma in Modern Applied Pscychology (MAP). She is a healthcare enthusiast and likes writing on topics from multiple fields of medicine, including dentistry, psychology, and general health.