Do you have Social Media Anxiety Disorder? (SMAD)

digital well-being May 03, 2023
Do you have Social Media Anxiety Disorder? (SMAD)


Have you ever been on a long-distance plane and felt anxious because you could not check them? Or have you ever been on the subway and felt concerned about not loading the latest tweet because of the network interruption? 


If yes, You might be diagnosed with Social Media Anxiety Disorder (SMAD). 


What is SMAD?

As people access new technology, we appear to get more apprehensive and stressed. It is now the internet era, and we cannot live without social media. Social Media Anxiety Disorder is common among clients in therapists’ offices nationwide. 

Still, it is not recognized as a psychiatric disorder. 


Research has indicated that anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorder in the United States, affecting 40 million adults or 18.1% of the population annually. 


SMAD generates an overwhelming feeling of sharing things on social media platforms. Yet, they need to post more and get more likes to feel better.


Symptoms of SMAD

There are several different types of anxiety related to social media, as listed below:

  • Compare and despair: Second-guessing their caption word choice. In contrast, others regret posting photos as they fear not getting enough “likes.”
  • FOMO (Fear of Missing Out): Expressing a general uneasiness about going without their phone, having a sense of being cut off from social media, and a delay in receiving notifications
  • Notification Overwhelming: Gen Zs frequently believe they must immediately “like” or comment on their friend’s post to avoid being seen as an insult or a slight. Severe nervousness or anxiety when you are not able to check your notifications


Here is a list of more common symptoms of SMAD according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America:

  • Interrupting conversations to check your social media accounts
  • Lying to others about how much time you spend on social media
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Trying to stop or reduce your use of social media more than once before without being successful
  • Loss of interest in other activities, including neglecting work or school to use social media 
  • Spending over six hours per day on social media platforms
  • The overwhelming need to share things with others on social media sites
  • Having your phone with you 24 hours a day to check your social media sites
  • Negative impacts in your personal or professional life due to social media usage


“Social media and the ‘likes,’ retweets, and other plaudits that it instantly generates mimics the same mechanisms in a drug habit. The kick, the high is not dissimilar to the reward areas that fire up in your brain — like the amygdala and striatum — when you [use a substance],” 

– Anjhula Mya Singh Bais, Ph.D. International Psychology, trauma specialist, and author. 


How can we manage SMAD?

Many people compare themselves to others and occasionally feel FOMO but do not experience social media anxiety. 


But, if you see that your interaction with social media is becoming increasingly stressful, the following helpful advice might be beneficial: 

  • Limit your time on social media and the number of social media platforms. Use external applications, like SocialX, Moment, and Freedom, to track and reduce your screen time on social media apps.
  • Turn off the push notifications for social media, or turn on the “Do not disturb” mode to reduce receiving notifications during a specific time frame. 
  • Spend more time with your family and friends, doing outdoor activities without your phone, such as hiking, biking, and chit-chatting. 
  • Try to develop another hobby that does not requires digital usage, like watching a movie, ceramics, doing sports, and more. 


Social media could be entertaining, informative, and fun to connect with others if appropriately used. If you notice that you or your friends frequently have the above signs and behaviors, help them with our suggestions or find us for help. 



Visit for more digital wellness tools & resources for students, educators, and parents. 


Do you have Social Media Anxiety Disorder?

By: Stephanie Lam, Seasonal PR Intern | Digital4Good

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