Dating App Depression: Why It’s a Problem and How to Get Help
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to create serious challenges for people looking for relationships, dating apps have gained popularity among single people. Even as society returns to normal, more people use dating apps to meet new people.
Although dating apps create a convenient dating experience, many users experience negative effects on their mental health. According to one survey, even though users were more likely to report a positive rather than a negative impact on their self-esteem, increased use was associated with psychological distress. Even in the absence of mental health issues, dating apps can leave us questioning our self-worth, contributing to feelings of worthlessness and low self-esteem.
Whether you’ve been using Tinder for years or you’re new to the online dating scene, here’s how to navigate dating apps without sacrificing your mental health.
How Dating Apps Impact Mental Health
Dating app depression is real—and dating apps can take a significant toll on your mental wellness. Studies show that users are more likely to be distressed, anxious, or depressed. Some common mental health impacts of dating apps include:
- Low self-esteem. Putting yourself out there can feel intimidating, and rejection is inevitable. It’s impossible to match every person, and getting “ghosted” can leave you feeling low. Some people might engage in negative self-talk or take non-matches personally, contributing to low self-esteem.
- Poor body image. Dating apps are often associated with poor body image and body dysmorphia. Without the personal connection that comes with meeting in person, matches typically rely on physical attraction. According to a 2016 study, Tinder users reported lower self-esteem, mainly dissatisfaction with their physical appearance and shame toward their body image.
- Stress and anxiety. Online dating can feel overwhelming. You might feel pressure to respond to every match or swipe through your dating app every day to find the perfect match.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression
Major depressive disorder is a serious medical illness that negatively affects your thoughts and behaviors. Depressive disorders can affect anyone, and using dating apps can increase the risk of depression, anxiety symptoms, and other mental health issues.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, depressive disorders typically involve a combination of psychological and physical symptoms, including:
- Feelings of sadness or a depressed mood
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Changes in appetite
- Sleeping problems, such as insomnia
- Increased irritability
- Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, or trouble thinking clearly
- Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or guilt
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Major depression often co-occurs with other mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders and substance abuse. If you’re experiencing depression symptoms or other mental health challenges, it’s important to reach out for professional help. Depressive disorders are highly treatable with psychotherapy, antidepressants, or a combination of both.
How to Navigate Dating App Depression
Dating apps make it easy to get online and swipe through potential matches in minutes—but that doesn’t mean you’re going to have a quality experience. If you’re living with a depressive disorder or experiencing other mental health challenges, it’s essential to be intentional about your dating app use. Here are some tips for navigating dating apps in a healthy, sustainable way.
- Limit your time on dating apps. Social media fatigue can affect anyone. Instead of mindlessly swiping through matches for hours, try setting time limits on your dating app use. This might mean checking the app once a day or setting aside a few 15-minute breaks throughout the day to engage with the app genuinely.
- Set healthy boundaries. You don’t have to keep talking to every match because you don’t want to “ghost” them. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable or ignores your boundaries, cut off the conversation.
- Check in with yourself. Before opening Tinder or Bumble, make sure you’re in the right headspace. If you’re experiencing a low mood or navigating stressful life events, swiping through potential matches might not be the best choice for your mental health.
- Reach out for support. Whether you’re living with a mental health disorder or experiencing mental health symptoms, you don’t have to do it alone. Talk therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), is the first-line treatment for major depression, anxiety disorders, and other mental health conditions. Even if you don’t have a diagnosable mental illness, psychotherapy can help you learn healthy coping strategies, develop better communication skills, and build healthier relationships.
Supportive, Data-Driven Therapy in Charlotte
Dating apps can be a valuable resource to meet people you wouldn’t normally interact with, but checking in with your mental wellness is essential. If you’re experiencing low self-esteem, feelings of sadness, or any other mental health concerns, therapy offers a safe space to explore your thoughts and feelings.
To find the right fit, reach out to a mental health specialist through the Therapy Group of Charlotte. Whether you’re starting therapy for the first time or returning after some time away, we’ll connect you to a compassionate, licensed mental health professional. One of our experienced therapists will help you explore your treatment options to start living a happier, healthier life.