With around half of the Australian population logging into Facebook on a daily basis (yes, that’s 12.2 million of us), it’s safe to say social media plays a large role in many of our everyday lives.

Of course, while there are numerous benefits to social media use, what you get out of it corresponds rather directly to how you choose to use it. And for some, social media has ceased being a fun pastime and has become a source of great anxiety.

“What you’re dealing with is when people are almost fearful of being on social media,” Amanda Lambros, Clinical Fellow in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Curtin University tells HuffPost Australia.

“Their bodies display symptoms of anxiety when they go to check Facebook or Twitter or anything like that. Even opening the application causes that level of anxiety.

“Social media can become extremely addictive in our lives, and also can be damaging depending on how you use it. It’s one of those things that has the power to benefit you, or have really negative effect, depending on how it’s used.”

While ‘social media anxiety’ isn’t an established clinical term, social media in itself has been recognised by many mental health consultants as an ‘anxiety-provoking factor’, both when users are on and off the site.

“People who use social media often do report that at certain times when using social media, they have a psychological reaction,” Dr Bridianne O’Dea, research fellow at the Black Dog Institute tells HuffPost Australia.

“Some things they might experience when they are using it directly in that point of time, so they might see something and this could trigger a reaction, or alternatively when they’re not using it. So their feelings are around having not checked it or being very conscious of what’s happening on social media when they’re not on the site.”

“We see people who get addicted to the likes or reading the comments,” Lambros says. “They are opening [an application] up and are already anticipating that something is going to happen or has happened since they last logged on.

“They may experience sweaty palms or generally not feeling well, or get a weird tingling feeling in their gut. There can be a redness on the chest which creeps up your neck and onto your cheeks.

– Emily Blatchford

Read More: How To Tell If Social Media Is Giving You Anxiety