Snapchat filters: The enemy of mental health

A study from Boston University links the use of filters with a new phenomenon of body dysmorphia highly harmful to mental health

Snapchat filters are the enemy of mental health

A study by the Boston University School of Medicine affirmed that the excessive use of Snapchat filters could damage mental health, with spectra ranging from self-esteem disorders, body image, to body dysmorphic disorder, associated with the obsessive-compulsive spectrum.

"Filters for selfies can make people lose contact with reality, creating the expectation that we must be perfect at all times," explains Neelam Vashi, co-author of the study.

Leer en español: Los filtros de Snapchat: el gran enemigo de la salud mental

For researchers, the causes behind the phenomenon called Snapchat dysmorphia include factors such as genetics and neurobiological problems through an incomplete process of the neurotransmitter serotonin.

Social networks have a great influence and responsibility with respect to the mental health of the new generations and how they relate to their image. The virtual profiles generate a limbic space between the real me and the one that it is projected the rest of the world. The use of Snapchat filters allows covering some defects, but its long-term consequences are harmful to mental health.

Snapchat and dysmorphia

Snapchat's dysmorphia is a phenomenon of the modern era that questions the line between reality and fantasy. Northwestern University psychology professor Renee Engeln said during a TED talk in 2013 that people have become obsessed with their appearance, comparing themselves to images idealized in popular culture. Now there is Snapchat dysmorphia in which patients seek cosmetic surgery to look like the filter versions of themselves.

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A survey conducted by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery revealed that 55 percent of surgeons received patients who requested surgeries to look better in selfies.

Snapchat has been a successful image messaging application that has more than 150 million daily users and 20 filters that allow the user to add items such as puppy ears, flowers on the head, freckles, longer eyelashes, light eyes, an impeccable skin and many more among others.

Although the study is focused on Snapchat, the reality is beyond the limits of the app. Instagram also has a variety of filters and a number of 700 million users per month. There is also a range of applications such as FaceTune that allows you to completely modify the appearance of a person in a single selfie.

What is dysmorphia?

Body dysmorphia is known as a disorder that causes, to those who suffer it, a distorted concept of their own physique. In many cases, dysmorphia induces people to become obsessed with real or imaginary defects, to the point of not leading a normal life.

Now, the generations have an obsession with the image thanks to social networks and therefore use any means to modify their appearance and take it to the best possible aspect.

"The omnipresence of these filtered images can affect a person's self-esteem, make one feel inadequate in a certain way in the real world, and can even act as a trigger and lead to body dysmorphic disorder," says Susruthi Rajanala, leader of the investigation.


LatinAmerican Post | Diana Ramos
Translated from “Los filtros de Snapchat son el gran enemigo de la salud mental”

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