Is Your Phone Affecting Your Mental Health?

Written By: Care New England on January 14, 2022

8 Ways Your Phone Can Affect Your Mental Health

Undoubtedly, smartphones have become integrated into our everyday lives. About 72% of Americans own a smartphone. Despite the benefits of using a smartphone, they have some adverse effects on one's mental health. 

Here are eight of the ways smartphone use can affect your mental health.

1. Smartphones Can Be Addictive

Smartphones have an addictive quality, gaining entry into the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 
Cell phone addiction manifests in one of the following ways:

  • Loss of interest in activities.
  • Anxiety when you cannot send or receive messages.
  • Irritability when one is away from your phone.
2. Fear of Missing Out

Recent studies have shown a connection between anxiety symptoms and problematic smartphone use. During a 2016 study, 308 participants filled out a questionnaire that sought the relationship between the mental health of the individuals and their cell phone use.

The majority of those who scored high on the fear of missing out tend to overuse their phones. Similarly, these individuals score high on anxiety and depression scales. That is because excessive use of smartphones interferes with social activities and therefore increases depression.

3. Reduced Attention and Productivity

Whether at work or school, too much use of smartphones lowers the attention span of individuals. Experiments on 'Does my phone affect my mental health?' indicated individuals were distracted during a phone call or when receiving notifications from the smartphone. 

Other studies revealed that individuals with heavy social media use had a minor grey matter in their brains. This grey area is responsible for attention control.

4. Depression

A study among teenagers on 'Do cell phones cause anxiety and depression?' revealed smartphones contributed to increased depression rates. This study showed that teenagers who were constantly on their phones were less happy than those who took part in non-screen activities.

5. Contributes to Relationship Stress

People are always on their phones to connect to their loved ones who are far away. However, smartphones can have the opposite effect. 

For instance, when using a phone during family dinner time or on a date with your partner, the phone will take away your attention from your loved ones and cause a strain on the relationship.

6. Chasing Dopamine

Addiction to anything depends on brain chemicals, and dopamine is usually the neurotransmitter responsible. Dopamine is a neurochemical messenger and carries signals that are responsible for reward-seeking. The neuroplastic change from the process is what causes the addiction to happen. Every time a notification comes from the phone, the brain releases dopamine. 

The more this happens, your brain releases dopamine even before the notification. The prior release of dopamine creates the need to check your phone for the same brain response. With time, you will be spending more time on your phone and not on other essential activities.

7. Sleep Disturbances 

Disrupted sleep is caused by many factors, including the frequent use of the phone, especially at night. Excessive use of a phone at night is harmful to your brain. That is because smartphone screens emit blue light. This light mimics the sun's brightness and thus confuses the brain.

8. Anxiety

Smartphone use can cause anxiety in individuals in different ways. Some individuals experience anxiety when they are away from their phones. For others, stress is even exhibited as withdrawal-like symptoms. 

The overuse of smartphones creates a psychological dependency, and separation from the device will create anxiety.

Bottom Line

Although smartphone use is key to everyday life activities, excessive use of smartphones is likely to cause mental health problems. 

If you or your loved one is experiencing mental health issues such as anxiety or depression, contact Butler Hospital for professional help. Our mental health experts at the facility will help diagnose and treat mental health issues before they escalate. 


Disclaimer: The content in this blog is for informational and educational purposes only and should not serve as medical advice, consultation, or diagnosis.  If you have a medical concern, please consult your healthcare provider, or seek immediate medical treatment.