Use of social media blamed for spiralling cases of anxiety and depression

A leading Portuguese psychiatrist has sounded a stark warning over the use of social media.

Cases of anxiety, depression, stress, dependence, self-harm and even suicide are becoming ever more frequent, says Jorge Bouça, director of Psychiatry at Gaia Hospital, Espinho. And he blames the increase squarely on “the virtual world”.

Speaking at the opening of a two-day conference set up to discuss the crossovers between “neural and social networks”, Bouça outlined the fact that feelings of “disillusion and deception” are increasing progressively among people using social media.

“The digital sphere has become a catalyst for new forms of voyeurism and exhibitionism, accentuating autodestructive behaviour particularly in young people, he added.

Bouça’s warning heralded the start of a series of debates on how social media is affecting people’s behaviour, to each other, and in groups.

Themes were to include radicalisation, violence and appeals to “purifying causes” like Jihadism.

Another aspect of the conference hoped to outline how the human brain reacts to excessive use of technology, “impeding rest and becoming an inevitable cause of stress”.

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