Doomscrolling: What it is and Why it’s Harmful to Your Mental Health

scrolling through social media

Do you ever find yourself mindlessly scrolling through negative news articles or social media posts? This is known as ‘doomscrolling,’ and it’s a behavior that’s closer to addiction than you realize. 

Nothing good comes from doomscrolling. You’re looking at one negative story after another, which can affect your psyche and make you feel helpless in a challenging world. In fact, one Canadian study has referred to this phenomenon as ‘social media panic.’

Let’s learn more about what exactly doomscrolling is, why we’re tempted to do it and the impact it has on mental health. 

Understanding Doomscrolling and Why it Happens 

Doomscrolling is very similar to mindless scrolling, except that you’re looking at negative news. Mindless scrolling on its own is not a positive behavior. Oftentimes, it starts out by swiping through Snapchat because you’ve got 10 minutes to kill or reading Facebook while you pick up your child from school.

However, over time, you find yourself picking up your phone every chance you get to provide continuous stimulation. The problem is that you’re not adding anything beneficial to your life. Rather, you’re chasing a dopamine hit. 

The thing is, social media sites are designed to get you addicted to them. The algorithms track your habits and activity and show you things they think you’ll like. This keeps you coming back for more, training your brain to expect a dopamine rush when you open your news feed. 

So are you doomscrolling? If you’re spending minutes or hours engrossed in reading stories and articles that cover negative topics, you probably are. 

Doomscrolling and Its Impact on Mental Health 

People who suffer from anxiety disorders have a tendency to doomscroll because of the sense of control they’re looking for. Anxiety is about a lack of control, so by continuing to check news stories, people assume they are in control of what’s happening around them. However, all this really does is create more anxiety and fear. 

Doomscrolling also has other negative effects, as does mindless scrolling. It prevents you from paying attention to your own thoughts and feelings and takes time away from healthy activities like mindfulness and exercise. It can also start you on the path to developing a technology addiction in Princeton NJ that requires professional treatment. 

Tips to Prevent Doomscrolling 

If you’ve found yourself aimlessly scrolling through negative content or feel the urge to keep checking for updates on negative stories, it’s a good time to do a mental health check. Are you using social media for the right reasons? How do you feel after you read negative content? Do you find that your social media use is affecting your mood? 

If you answer yes to any of these questions, put the following tips into action: 

  • Redirect your attention to something else, like taking a walk or calling a friend. 
  • Set a time limit – 20 minutes of scrolling is enough to keep you informed. 
  • Seek out positive content such as uplifting stories or funny memes.
  • Practice gratitude every day to live in the moment – not live in fear. 

CTRLCare Behavioral Health specializes in social media addiction treatment in New Jersey. We are aware of how behaviors like mindless scrolling or doomscrolling can affect your mental health. With our Adult Program, Youth Program and telehealth services, you can easily access the care you need to break the cycle of social media addiction. Contact our admissions team to learn more.