Study reveals link between anxiety, depression and dating apps

  • Dating can be challenging for people with anxiety and depression
  • Such people often use online apps to start relationships
  • The use of online dating apps has been linked to depression and anxiety disorders

Taking the step to initiate an intimate relationship can be challenging for anyone, but even more so for those suffering from social anxiety (SA) and depression.

Many of these individuals take refuge in online dating apps, with motivations ranging from finding love to casual sex. An article recently published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking reported that symptoms of social anxiety and depression are closely linked to the use of online dating apps.

This was based on findings from an online survey that examined psychopathology(collective features of mental health) and online dating app usage. The survey was completed by 374 participants which required them to fill out questionnaires assessing anxiety in social situations in the prior week.

A model known as the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales-21 Item Version was also used to assess depression symptoms, anxiety, and stress in participants – revealing the consistent presence of these symptoms.

Six reasons why

Participants’ motivation for using dating apps was based on the Tinder Motivations Scale, including motivations such as “love, casual sex, ease of communication, self-worth validation, thrill of excitement, and trendiness”. Males and females were included in the study, and the likelihood of meeting up with online “matches” was compared between genders.

Men less likely to succeed

The findings of the study suggest that there is a positive association between symptoms of SA and depression and the extent of using dating apps, as well as the motivation for using dating apps.

It also predicted that men were less likely to make offline contact with “matches” than women. The greater symptoms of SA and depression in men, the lower the likelihood of them making contact with matches outside of the dating app. Men were also found to be more likely to expose themselves to the harmful consequences of using dating apps without reaping any social benefits from using the apps.

President of the Virtual Reality Medical Center and a licensed clinical psychologist in California and Belgium, Brenda K. Wiederhold says: “With mobile dating apps increasingly figuring into today's dating landscape, [studies like these] are vital to understanding their merits as well as their shortcomings.”

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