This is a big one, and likely the side effect of cell phone use that has been most researched. Cell phone addiction eventually leads to all the traditional symptoms of depression- losing interest in otherwise enjoyed activities, increased anxiety, irritability, insomnia, and impulsivity. Oftentimes, people will use their cellphones as a distraction and coping mechanism for these feelings, creating a vicious cycle of unhappiness when they no longer get the same enjoyment out of it. Some studies actually show that people feel depressed and anxious because of their cell phones, regardless of if they have them around, simply because it is always on their minds.
To be clear, mental health experts say research doesn’t conclusively prove that cell phone use causes depression, but it does greatly exacerbate the problem in people with existing mental health issues. Teens especially seemed to be affected in this category, with cases of diagnosed teen depression rising by 37% in a nine year period. The general increase in depressive behaviors for all age groups over the past decade is alarming, and the corresponding rise in suicides and attempts reflect that. Again, cell phone use does not “cause” depression, but it is nonetheless a trigger.