If you’ve suspected that your hours upon hours of staring at your timeline might be bad for you, you’re about to be vindicated: There’s a new psychological disorder on the books, and it’s apparently caused by too much Twitter.
As the Daily Dot reports, several doctors have come to the conclusion that using social media could “aggravate or even induce psychotic symptoms” in individuals susceptible to such things.
The authors of the article “Twitter Psychosis: A Rare Variation or a Distinct Syndrome?” explored the case of a 31-year-old woman who was admitted to a psychiatric hospital in Berlin after suffering a mental breakdown. And the supposed cause? Too much Twitter.
Before being committed, this woman had never displayed any signs of a psychological disorder. However, her friends and family reported that she became obsessed with Twitter a year prior, and doctors suggest that this caused her break with reality.
Now, her obsession was not your average “check Twitter before bed and first thing in the morning and at lunch and at the gym and again while watching TV” behavior. She reportedly began neglecting her social commitments and missed meals and sleep to send and read tweets.
Her psychosis manifest itself when she began to believe that a famous actor was tweeting to her using secret coded language. Her condition deteriorated:
“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. 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 patient has now recovered from her paranoia and apparently doesn’t feel compelled to even log back in to Twitter, which caused the authors to hypothesize that there was something about Twitter that set her off in the first place.
The researchers suggest that:
“…the amount of symbolic language (caused by the limitation of 140 characters per Twitter message), the automated spam responses with seemingly related content, and the general interactive features of Twitter might combine several aspects that could induce or further aggravate psychosis.”