Is IG Bad for Your Mental Health? Depends Who You Follow

Mental Health

By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder

The month of September is usually recognized as a time to shine a light on suicide and figure out ways we can be proactive about it. That is why September is referred to as National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rate of suicide among teen girls ages 15 to 19 doubled between 2007 and 2015, marking the highest rate in 40 years!

Young people are constantly bombarded with unattainable images of beauty and fitness, through the media and social media. And there is some evidence that there may be a strong connection between body image issues, mental health and suicide. 

It is so important that you have a healthy body image in order to help protect your mental health. And one of the ways to do this is to perhaps reduce the amount of social media you ingest.

According to a recent study of 276 American and Australian women (ages 18-25), looking at Instagram for just 30 minutes a day could have a very negative impact on your body image.

All of the women in the study had instagram accounts.

“Greater overall Instagram use was associated with greater self-objectification, and that relationship was mediated both by internalization and by appearance comparisons to celebrities. More frequently viewing fitspiration images on Instagram was associated with greater body image concerns, and that relationship was mediated by internalization, appearance comparison tendency in general, and appearance comparisons to women in fitspiration images,” according to authors of the study.

This constant state of comparing your body to another person could lead to chronic depression or even worse, suicide. And all it may take is 30 minutes a day.

Additional research needs to be done on this, however, it may not hurt to take a break from constantly scrolling through your social media feeds for those perfect body images. Our time may be better spent by being proactive about achieving or maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

For example, there are various foods you can eat that contain critical nutrients which may reduce the likelihood of depression or improve depressive symptoms. 

  • Magnesium. Several studies have shown an improvement in the severity of symptoms of depression when study participants were given 125-300 mg of magnesium with each meal and at bedtime. Symptoms that improved included irritability, insomnia, hopelessness and anxiety. Foods containing magnesium include spinach, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, kefir, almonds, black beans, avocado, figs, dark chocolate and bananas.
  • Chromium. This mineral is a metallic element that humans require in very small amounts. We may not need a lot of chromium, but a study of patients with atypical depression showed that 70 percent who took 600 mcg of chromium picolinate had improvement in their symptoms. Foods high in chromium include broccoli, free range eggs, sweet potatoes, corn, oats and grass fed beef.
  • Iron. Decreased levels of iron can result in apathy, depression and fatigue. Many women experience depression during childbearing years (25-45), and one reason for this could be that women lose iron during menstruation. Iron-rich foods include red meat, pork, poultry, seafoods, beans, spinach (and other leafy greens), peas, cherimoyas and iron-fortified cereals.
  • Selenium. Depression, as a result of selenium deficiency, has been established in at least five different studies. Depression may be the result of oxidative stress, which is why selenium may be helpful. Selenium has antioxidant properties. Foods high in selenium include Brazil nuts, yellowfin tuna, halibut, sardines and chicken.
  • Zinc. Many clinical studies have been done to determine the relationship between zinc and depression. Zinc levels are generally low in those with major depression. Zinc rich foods include  lamb, pumpkin seeds, grass fed beef, mushrooms, chickpeas, spinach and chicken to get more zinc in your daily diet.
  • Copper. This mineral is important in depression because it is a component of the enzymes that metabolize brain chemicals that help you respond to stress, feel happy and be alert. Copper rich foods include sunflower seeds, lentils, almonds, dark chocolate, beef liver and asparagus.
  • Manganese. This mineral is a large component of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and was found to be low in the depressive episode of bipolar patients compared to controls. Treatment with the antidepressant fluoxetine increased the level of this enzyme. Dietary sources of manganese include nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables, tea, wheat germ, whole grains, legumes and pineapples.
  • Calcium. There is no clear relationship between calcium and depression, but some studies found low calcium in depressed patients and others found elevated levels. However, you cannot ignore calcium’s role because it affects the levels of magnesium in your body. For foods rich in calcium, click here.

So if you start to feel a little down after looking at those perfect body images on social media for an extended period of time, consider taking a break and refocus your energies on how you can enjoy a healthy life.

Enjoy your healthy life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.



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