Do you ever feel like you spend too much time on Twitter? Surprise, surprise: That may actually be bad for you.
Twitter may cause psychotic symptoms in patients with a predisposition, claims an article published in the August issue of The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. The article titled "Twitter Psychosis: A Rare Variation or a Distinct Syndrome?" looks at the case of a 31-year-old woman, referred to as "Mrs. C." who was hospitalized in Berlin after suffering a mental breakdown.
About a year before this, "Mrs. C" was always on Twitter, spending several hours a day writing messages and missing out on social interaction, meals and sleep. The first sign of her psychosis was that she believed a famous actor was secretly responding to her tweets through code.
‟'During the next couple of weeks, Mrs. C increasingly felt that the messages of other users were ‛meant in a symbolic way'' and that she had to react to these ‛tasks' in a certain manner,' the paper explained. 'After approximately two months, she started to discover the same symbols in her real-world environment. She then began to feel that there ‛must be some organization behind these tasks' and started to suspect a sect, pointing to the development of systematized paranoid delusion,'" The Daily Dot reported.
When "Mrs. C" recovered from her episode and left the hospital, she was no longer interested in Twitter. The study's authors believe Twitter's interactivity, seemingly-related spam messages and "symbolic language," as a result of the 140-character messages, lead to the possibility that Twitter "could induce or further aggravate psychosis," The Daily Dot reported.
This isn't the first report of social media possibly affecting our mental health, and it probably won't be the last. In addition to Twitter, there have been reports of Facebook and selfie addiction and studies linking a high frequency of social media activity to narcissism (duh). Internet addiction has also been the topic of two recent documentaries, "Love Child," which premiered on HBO last month, and "Web Junkie," which is currently playing in New York.
Some experts say that if someone is already vulnerable to psychotic episodes, they may manifest in a person's social media activity. "Individuals who are manic, depressed, psychotic, anxious, addicted — if they're utilizing social media for communication, they will utilize it in ways that reflect their symptoms or their behavior dysfunction," former American Psychiatric Association President Jeff Lieberman told The Cut.
But don't let all of this keep you from tweeting 'til your heart's content. As with anything, just stick to social media in moderation, and you'll probably be just fine.