It seems that Samantha Friedley’s frequent viewing of videos about borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, and multiple personality disorder on the “Tik Tok” platform affected her personality, thoughts, and belief that she had these diseases, according to a report by the newspaper.The Wall Street Journal“.
The popular platform abounds with videos of this kind, submitted by teenagers or young people, who say they have these diseases, or at least one of them, who claim to be therapists, often mention some symptoms, and encourage viewers to make their own assessment.
Friedley, a high school student, was diagnosed with problems such as anxiety and depression at the age of 10, but after watching several of these clips on TikTok, she became convinced at various times that she had these illnesses.
Borderline personality disorder is a mental health disorder that affects the way people think about themselves, and feel about themselves and others. This leads to problems in daily life tasks. These include difficulty controlling feelings and behavior, and frequent disruption of relationships.
A person with borderline personality disorder has an intense fear of abandonment or instability, and may find it difficult to tolerate loneliness. Intense anger, impulsiveness, and moody moods may also push others away from him even though he wants to feel loved and have lasting relationships.
Borderline personality disorder usually begins with the onset of adulthood. However, the condition worsens in youth and may gradually improve with age.
On the “Tik Tok” platform, the videos entitled borderline personality disorder were viewed about 600 million times, which is not commensurate with the rarity of the disease, for example in the United States, which astonished the psychiatrist in Missouri, Ann Sly.
It is estimated that only 1.4 percent of the adult population in the United States has the disorder, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a nonprofit mental health advocacy organization.
Doctors say borderline personality disorder is never diagnosed in teens, because their personalities are still forming and because some symptoms, such as having unstable interpersonal relationships and displaying impulsive behavior, are difficult to distinguish from typical teen behavior.
Multiple personality disorder (also known as schizophrenia) is much rarer, affecting less than one percent of the population, according to the nonprofit Cleveland Academic Clinic.
According to the newspaper, videos containing “multiple personality disorder” have been viewed more than 700 million times on “Tik Tok”.
And after Sly saw many patients in a children’s psychiatric facility, last summer, who self-diagnosed, and stated that they were learning about these diseases, through “Tik Tok”, she herself created an account for her on this platform to understand what these children were watching. .
Sly said, “I was most shocked by the number of videos about multiple personality disorder because of how rare it is,” noting at the same time that “Tik Tok videos” that remove the stigma of mental illness and lead some teens to seek help can be positive. , but only to a certain extent.
Sly notes that she, and other doctors, across the country are seeing more teens coming up with self-diagnoses from TikTok.
Recently, TikTok has overtaken Instagram in popularity among teens, according to a recent report by Forrester Research.
63 percent of Americans aged 12 to 17 used Tik Tok, up from 50 percent in 2020, while the percentage of children in that age group who used Instagram fell to 57 percent, down from 61 percent. in the same year.
Don Grant, Executive Director of Patient Services etc., of Newport Adolescent Health Care in Santa Monica, Don Grant, says they are trying to convince these kids to drop their self-assessment that they have these diseases, “but when they leave us, they go right back into the tik tok community that they are.” reinforce their beliefs.
“Saturation with negative content can alter brain chemistry, displacing neurotransmitters with stress hormones,” said Grant, who chairs a committee of the American Psychological Association that develops guidelines for psychologists and the public on social media use.
He explained, “What happens is that in this case the adrenaline and cortisol flood the mind, while there is little or no dopamine and serotonin.”
On the other hand, some therapists are also trying to use “Tik Tok” to combat misinformation about mental health conditions, such as the clinical social worker in Minneapolis, Evan Lieberman, who has accumulated more than a million followers on his account on the platform.
For her part, Fridley, a high school student, said that she did not search for videos about mental health diagnoses on “Tik Tok”, but that the application suggested that she watch such videos, after she started following some mental health defense accounts, noting. She was also following the accounts of comedians.
A recent investigation by the Wall Street Journal showed that TikTok’s algorithms picked up hidden cues from users, such as how long they had been in a video, and then showed them more and more of the same content.
Earlier this month, TikTok, a platform owned by a Chinese company, said it was testing changes in algorithms to direct viewers away from one type of content.
Currently, TikTok users can select the “Disinterested” feature on a video if they don’t want to watch more videos from a specific account, but the app makers say they are working on a feature that allows people to choose words or hashtags associated with the content. Which they don’t want in their feeds.
For a year, Friedley thought she would have a different diagnosis every two weeks, and wrote it down in her diary.
Her father, John Friedley, was skeptical about changing her self-diagnosis. “We felt for a long time that we were competing with social media,” noting that any child with psychological problems would sit alone in their room with their thoughts and with “Tik Tok” which is a dangerous combination.
In April, 18-year-old Fredley enrolled in a treatment program for anxiety and depression.
Fridley says that her conditions worsened during the epidemic, “when education was only remote, which made her watch a lot of “Tik Tok” videos,” adding, “I really messed with my head.”
Friedley’s psychiatrist explained that some symptoms of the disorder did not qualify a person for self-diagnosis, which eventually made her convinced that the symptoms she was experiencing were depression and anxiety only.
It helped her take a break from social media during 54 days of the device-free program. “It was the best feeling ever not to have my phone with me,” she said.
Before she was discharged from hospital in May, Friedley, her family and her therapist agreed on the rules to follow at home, with Friedley suggesting she stay away from her phone for three months.
She eventually started watching videos on TikTok again, but reduced the amount of time she spent on the app, and clicked “Disinterested” for videos about mental health diagnoses.
It took about a month for the mental health videos to disappear completely, she said.
Sly suggests, “Take a break from social media and stay away from it for a while, like Fredley did…”.