How Doomscrolling Can Actually Be Harmful To Your Health

You log on to your favorite social media account for a quick update on what's going on. With each post that you like, you tell yourself that you're only going to check out a few more and commit to signing off for the night in a bit. Then, out of nowhere, a tragic news headline pops up on your feed, and you click on it because you have to know more. You read three, four, five more articles about the incident. You find yourself falling deeper into the rabbit hole and, before you know it, your casual scrolling turns into a three-hour dive into anxiety-inducing news.

Your obsession with reading about bad news is slowly taking over your time, and it's not just you. It's become so common that there's now a name for it, "doomscrolling," per Health. Doomscrolling can be incredibly addicting, and sometimes feel like a hard habit to shake. You don't set out to read news article after news article on serious events or dark topics that put you in a bad mood, but one thing leads to another and here you are.

But even doomscrolling sounds innocent, it can seriously impact your health in the long run.

Doomscrolling increases stress and anxiety, and it disrupts your sleeping patterns

When you lie awake in bed doomscrolling instead of sleeping, you unintentionally set yourself up to feel worse than you started out. Spending hours reading bad news post after bad news post puts you in a negative headspace, which in turn keeps you up at night because you can't shake off those thoughts. Dr. Leela R. Magavi, a psychiatrist and regional medical director at Community Psychiatry, explained to Healthline how doomscrolling increases your anxiety and stress. "Many individuals experience cognitive distortions such as catastrophizing, and doomscrolling could lead to an increase in ruminative thinking and panic attacks," she explained. 

Constantly reading up on issues or news that you know will upset you only primes you to expect the worst, boosting your negative mood tenfold. In a 2020 study published by the Journal of Medical Internet Research, college students reported feeling more anxious and depressed after spending more time reading news surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, according to Psychology Today.

Dr. Magavi also said that your mental health isn't the only thing that doomscrolling affects. Over time, it can have physical effects. "In the long term, doomscrolling can increase levels of cortisol and adrenaline, both of which are stress hormones. Research routinely shows that chronic levels of elevated stress hormones are associated with many physical health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity," she added (via Healthline). Cutting down your screen-time will put you in a better place emotionally and physically.