Fewer ‘likes’ on Facebook posts may land you in an asylum

  • Saurav Roy, Hindustan Times, Ranchi
  • Updated: Nov 29, 2015 21:05 IST
On an average, at least 20 patients across age groups overindulge on social media and develop schizophrenic symptoms every month. (Reuters file photo)

So how many people liked that ‘crazy’ post of yours on Facebook? And how many shares? Did those numbers make your day or put your mood off?

If yes, you’re not the only one.

Doctors from premier psychiatric institutes across the country have claimed that fewer likes or comments on Facebook posts are landing many social media addicts in mental asylums.

On an average, at least 20 patients across age groups overindulge on social media and develop schizophrenic symptoms every month, says Dr Amool Singh Ranjan, head of department of clinical psychology, Ranchi Institute of Neuro-Psychiatry and Allied Sciences (RINPAS).

“Living in the virtual world has become a peril for people. We are often amazed by the high number of people suffering from mental disorders due to social media,” Dr. Ranjan said.

With the growing use of smartphones, social media has become a part of daily life, not only in cities but in semi-urban areas as well. But this “overindulgence” in the virtual world is taking people away from the real world and pushing them towards unstable mental health, fear doctors.

Stating a recent example, Dr Ranjan said that a girl in her late teens only spoke about her pictures uploaded on Facebook and the reactions to it throughout the counselling session at the institute. She refused to talk about any other topic but her Facebook posts and friends from the virtual world, whom she had never met.

The disorder is curable through counselling and a complete prohibition of social media. However keeping such patients away from the virtual world may also make them violent, Ranjan warned.

Reports of people committing suicide over their friend request being rejected or due to comments mocking them have also come to the notice of experts, says Dr Neha Sayed, assistant professor of clinical psychology, Central Institute of Psychiatry (CIP), Ranchi.

“We get at least 10 cases of depression due to social media every month. Many patients also show suicidal tendencies,” said Syed, who heads the Suicide Prevention Helpline and Clinic of CIP.

A senior doctor from one of the leading private neuropsychiatry institutes in Kolkata, requesting anonymity, said that recently he had treated a teenage girl who was in love with a fake Facebook account, actually run by her own sister.

“Both were in need of medical attention. One had an alter ego while the other was miles away from reality,” said the doctor, not allowed to disclose details of medical cases as per the hospital’s protocol.

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