How To Break Your Social Media Addiction

How To Break Your Addiction
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- Acknowledge the problem
- Set specific goals
- Track your usage
- Turn off non-essential notifications for social media apps
- Set specific times during the day when you can check your social media
- Reduce the number of people, pages, or groups you follow to limit the amount of content you're exposed to
- Replace social media time with more meaningful activities
- Implement a digital detox
- Share your goals with friends or family and ask for their support
- Stay focused on your goals, and remember that progress might be slow but is still worthwhile

For more, read Social Media Addiction: Recognizing the Signs and How to Overcome It.

Addiction to social media usage has been on the rise in recent times. Social media addiction can potentially harm one's emotional well-being, physical health, interpersonal relationship connections, and even mental health. If you have this issue, learning practical techniques to break social media addiction is crucial.

We'll discuss how to withdraw from social media platforms successfully and your options. We will also compare and contrast the withdrawal symptoms of social media and other addictions. Finally, we'll reveal what you can gain by reducing your time on social media.

If your looking for a more general overview of social media addiction, we recommend our other blog on social media addiction, where we discuss its negative impacts on mental and physical health.

Did you know?

Excessive social media use can trigger anxiety, making it a double-edged sword in our digital age.

A young man spending his limited screen time

How to limit your use of social media

In 2018, the average time spent daily on social media by persons with access to the internet worldwide was 144 minutes. However, studies show that an average of 30 minutes of social media use per day, is best for mental wellness. [1]

While abstinence is commonly advocated to treat substance abuse, moderated internet use is the most psychologically beneficial consequence when dealing with social media addiction. Although complete abstinence from social media isn't required, it is helpful to have methods in place for establishing reasonable restrictions on usage.

If you don't want to quit social media but want to break free from the so-called social media addiction, the following tips below will help you shape your life when using social media apps.

A woman using her screen time to scroll on social platforms

Limit your time for social media use.

To mitigate the negative impacts of social media on your health, life, and relationships, it is crucial to limit your use. How can you achieve this? Here are some specific steps to guide you:

Set Clear Boundaries:

To start, establish specific times or days of the week for social media use. For instance, you might decide to only use social media during lunch breaks or after work hours. This also involves setting a daily limit—30 minutes or less can be an effective starting point. Remember, you don't have to delete apps entirely to gain control over your social media habits.

Employ Time-Tracking Tools:

Use tools such as timers or apps that monitor your social media usage. These can be set to block access to these sites after a specific amount of time has passed, helping you stick to your predetermined limits.

Additional Techniques for Managing Social Media Time:

Here are more strategies to help you manage your social media use effectively:

An example of a woman spending her time in a healthy way

Participate in a social media cleanse and digital detox.

Researchers in 2019 found that some students who disconnected from social media for five days reported feeling a "sense of serenity" and a sense of self-worth. While others were worried they would be left behind. [2] Participating in a social media cleanse or a digital detox is an effective way to break your social media addiction. Here's how you can embark on this journey:

Helpful tip: Follow online therapist influencers for helpful insights on managing social media addiction. Their tips can be a game-changer for your mental health

The negative consequences of social media affecting a young girl

Never compare yourself with others.

Dissatisfaction with one's appearance and depression are major causes of social media addiction. The allure of comparing oneself to others through their social media posts is compelling, and it's easy to get drawn in. [3] However, remember that the content on social media platforms does not necessarily indicate reality. People generally only share the highlights of their lives and frequently create or filter their images to make them look better.

Steps to Avoid Comparison

Don't judge your happiness based on the social media updates of others. It will lead to mental health effects, which can also have negative effects on your overall lifestyle. If a friend posts pictures from their recent vacation on Facebook or Instagram, resist the urge to evaluate your own life against theirs. It's likely they only shared the best parts of their trip with their family members online, and you have yet to learn how they live their daily life.

Helpful tip

Don't compare your life to others' online highlights. Embrace the benefits of online therapy for a healthier perspective and better self-esteem!
A woman on her phone and messaging her friends

Understand what urges you to check your social media accounts.

The key to breaking your social media addiction lies in determining the motivation behind your actions. What are the triggers that lead you to check your social media feeds? This is a multifaceted process, and the following specific steps can guide you:

A woman reading a book to feel more connected herself

Find other activities to do instead of using social media.

To help you break your social media addiction, you can do something else you find interesting instead of going onto social media. There are many other ways to pass the time, like reading, going to the gym, cycling, spending quality time with family, etc. If you're feeling isolated, pick up your phone and talk to a real person which is much better than online relationships.

You may also cut back or eliminate your use of social media if you use your time to focus and do something productive, like writing or painting.

Leave social media for a while.

Taking a break from social media may help you regain control if you're finding it difficult to limit your usage healthily. This can be done by temporarily suspending your account or removing the apps from your mobile phone or device.

Taking a break from social media can be difficult, but it's worth it. This action will allow you to refocus your energy elsewhere. There's no shame in admitting you are addicted to social media. Take note of how much time you spend on it, and try to set limits.

Social media addiction and how it affects mental health.

Social media addiction and mental health

Since the introduction of social media platforms like Facebook, users' habits have considerably changed. Facebook started as a simple way for people to share photos and updates with their friends and family on a virtual "wall." [4]

Nevertheless, as time went on and other visually focused platforms emerged, such as Instagram, we stepped things up a notch with so many negative consequences. This was the beginning of the slippery slope, and it's still with us now.

Look at some of the most followed Instagram accounts right now. Manicured images and flawless layouts are the norms, and millions of users follow them. This has been popularized as an "Instagram objective," furthering the misconception that contented users are those whose feeds are filled with aesthetically pleasing photos. We all know this isn't true, yet the pressure to present an idealized version of one's life online contributes to rising cases of anxiety, sadness, and low self-esteem. [5]

You can also lose touch with your sense of reality because problems in the "real world" don't lend themselves to picturesque social media posts and status updates. The "perfect" environment you've cultivated online forces you to leave the physical world behind. This habit of avoiding reality by spending time on social media apps and platforms is called addiction.

If you notice your social media addiction has become extreme, you can manage the situation with Online Therapy.

If you're not sure whether you're addicted to social media or not, you can take this quick addiction test.


Like other addictions, social media addiction can be managed in various ways. You can break your social media addiction through self-awareness, establishing limits, taking breaks, and spending your free time on other satisfying or productive activities. All the tips we've listed are backed by extensive research and social experiments. [6]


What triggers social media addiction?

Various factors can cause social media addiction. Stress, low self-esteem, and social anxiety can lead to excessive social media usage.

How long does it take to break social media addiction?

Breaking social media addiction is a gradual process, and the recovery time depends on the individual and other factors. It is crucial to stick to your schedule, even if it's as simple as "no social media after a certain time e.g. 8 pm. The minimum time to break a habit is at least three to four weeks.


  1. Associations Between Time Spent Using Social Media and Internalizing and Externalizing Problems Among US Youth

2. Students on a Social Media ‘Detox’: Disrupting the Everyday Practices of Social Media Use

  1. Combating Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) on Social Media: The FoMO-R Method
  2. Facebook: A visual history
  3. The Instagram Aesthetic Is Over
  4. Research trends in social media addiction and problematic social media use: A bibliometric analysis

Effective Treatment Options for Kleptomania

Treatment Options
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Kleptomania, characterized by an irresistible urge to steal, can be difficult to manage and treat. Fortunately, several treatment options can help individuals with Kleptomania regain control over their lives. This blog will discuss the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment of Kleptomania.

About Kleptomania

Kleptomania is a rare mental health disorder that occurs in only 0.6% of the general population [2]. Individuals with Kleptomania are driven to steal items that they do not need and usually have no financial value. Unlike other mental health disorders, patients with Kleptomania often do not seek medical help because they are ashamed or embarrassed.

Symptoms of Kleptomania

Symptoms of Kleptomania

Kleptomania is a type of impulse control disorder characterized by an irresistible urge to steal. People with Kleptomania often experience a "rush" or feeling of excitement while stealing, but they also feel guilt or shame afterward. Other common symptoms include preoccupation with stealing, feelings of tension before and during the act of theft, and relief after performing the act.

Causes of Kleptomania

The exact cause of Kleptomania is unknown. However, certain factors may increase a person's risk of developing this disorder. These risk factors include;

A woman stealing fruit from a store

Unmasking the Psychological Impact of Kleptomania

Living with kleptomania isn't just about grappling with the uncontrollable urge to steal. There's an often unspoken psychological toll that this disorder can have on an individual's life. This section delves into the psychological impact of kleptomania, unmasking the layers of emotion and cognitive distress tied to this condition.

The Emotional Rollercoaster: Shame, Guilt, and Fear

One of the most profound aspects of the psychological impact of kleptomania is the emotional turmoil. Individuals with kleptomania often ride an emotional rollercoaster, marked by peaks of tension before the theft, brief relief after the act, and then a plunge into feelings of guilt and shame.

Guilt and Shame: The Unwanted Companions

Guilt and shame are common feelings experienced by those living with kleptomania. Despite the urge to steal being uncontrollable, individuals often blame themselves for their actions. This self-blame fuels feelings of guilt, while societal judgement can lead to deep-seated shame.

The Constant Companion: Fear

Another significant emotional aspect is fear. This fear can manifest in several ways - fear of being caught, fear of the legal consequences, and fear of judgement from friends, family, and society. This constant state of fear can be emotionally draining and further exacerbate feelings of anxiety and depression. [4]

A woman struggling with cognitive distress

Cognitive Distress: The Battle Within the Mind

Kleptomania is also characterized by cognitive distress, a form of mental strain that can significantly affect an individual's day-to-day life.

Obsession with Stealing: A Consuming Preoccupation

The mind of a person with kleptomania can become overly preoccupied with stealing. They might spend significant amounts of time thinking about past thefts, planning future thefts, or figuring out how to avoid getting caught. This obsessive thinking can interfere with their ability to focus on other aspects of life, such as work, relationships, or hobbies.

Distorted Self-Image: The Thief Identity

Over time, individuals with kleptomania may start to see themselves primarily as thieves, leading to a distorted self-image. This thief identity can overshadow other aspects of their personality and accomplishments, leading to low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness.

Interesting fact: Domestic violence may trigger kleptomania. Seek help if you're caught in this cycle; breaking free can also quell the urge to steal.

The Impact on Mental Wellbeing

Living with kleptomania can also have broader implications for mental wellbeing. The constant emotional turmoil and cognitive distress can lead to conditions such as depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts in severe cases. It's essential that individuals living with kleptomania reach out to mental health professionals who can provide the necessary help and treatment.

Depression: The Cloud that Looms

Depression is a common co-occurring disorder with kleptomania. The persistent feelings of guilt, shame, and fear, coupled with a distorted self-image, can lead to a pervasive feeling of sadness and loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities.

Anxiety: The Persistent Knot

Anxiety is another common psychological effect of kleptomania. The constant worry about potential thefts, fear of getting caught, and the stress of hiding their condition can all contribute to heightened anxiety levels.

Living with kleptomania can be a challenging journey, laden with emotional and cognitive distress. Understanding the psychological impact of this condition is the first step towards seeking effective treatment and finding a path towards recovery. Remember, seeking professional help is crucial. Mental health professionals can provide the necessary tools to manage the psychological impact of kleptomania, offering a much-needed lifeline to those dealing with this disorder. [5]

Helpful tip: Progressing through anxiety recovery stages can alleviate kleptomania urges. As anxiety lessens, so too can the impulse to steal.

A doctor busy with paperwork

Diagnosis of Kleptomania

American Psychiatric Association has stated that in order to diagnose Kleptomania, a clinician must identify these criteria as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5)[2];

  1. Failing to withstand urges to take things that are not necessary for personal use or for their monetary value on a regular basis.
  2. The moments leading up to the theft were becoming tenser and tenser.
  3. Pleasure, satisfaction, or relief at the time the theft was committed.
  4. The stealing is not done out of a sense of rage or retaliation, nor is it a reaction to a delusion or hallucination.
  5. None of the conduct disorder, a manic episode, or antisocial personality disorder offers a better explanation for the theft.

It's important to note that a qualified mental health professional should make the diagnosis after a comprehensive evaluation, which may include a medical and psychiatric history, physical examination, and psychological testing.

Treatment Options for Kleptomania

Kleptomania is a challenging disorder to treat, and there is no guaranteed cure for it. However, with proper treatment, many people with Kleptomania are able to control their urges to steal and significantly reduce the frequency and severity of their stealing behaviors. Treatment for Kleptomania may involve a combination of psychotherapy, medication, and support groups.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Kleptomania

Kleptomania is frequently treated using cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which is a popular method.[3]. CBT helps individuals with Kleptomania to identify and change their thoughts and behaviors related to stealing and develop new coping strategies to manage their urges to steal. Mental health professionals specifically use aversion therapy as the first approach to treating Kleptomania and other impulse control disorders.

Medication for Kleptomania

In most cases, medications used to treat other mental health problems, such as impulse control disorders and stress, are used to treat kleptomania [3]. Examples of medications include antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotics. One of the most used medications for treating Kleptomania is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).[3] These medications work by changing serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter in the brain that helps regulate mood.

Covert Sensitization

This type of treatment involves having the patient think about a negative consequence that would result from stealing every time they feel the urge to steal. The goal of covert sensitization is to make the patient more aware of their behavior and to create an aversion to stealing.

Support Groups and Online Help for Kleptomania

Support groups can be an effective way of managing Kleptomania along with treatments. These groups provide a safe and confidential space for individuals to discuss their experiences. Although it is unlikely that kleptomania patients will all be able to join these groups, having access to someone who is going through similar mental health issues can help increase understanding and provide support.

For those who prefer confidentiality or cannot join group therapy, some online forums and therapy websites can support Kleptomania. These sites provide qualified specialists to answer questions and provide advice.

For those who prefer confidentiality or cannot join group therapy, some online forums and therapy websites can support Kleptomania. These sites provide qualified specialists to answer questions and provide advice.

The Social Consequences of Kleptomania: Navigating Through a Sea of Challenges

Kleptomania doesn't just affect an individual on a personal level, but it often has far-reaching social consequences that can significantly impact one's life. This section explores the often-overlooked societal impacts of kleptomania, shedding light on the challenges individuals face in their relationships, careers, and social standing.

Strained Personal Relationships: A Tangled Web

One of the most profound social impacts of kleptomania is on personal relationships. Friends, family, and romantic partners can all be affected by this disorder, causing strained relationships and emotional distress.

The Trust Dilemma: Broken Bonds

Trust is a foundational aspect of any relationship. However, the uncontrollable stealing associated with kleptomania can erode this trust. Loved ones may feel betrayed or hurt, which can strain relationships and create a hostile or uncomfortable environment.

The Emotional Burden: Shared Distress

The emotional turmoil experienced by individuals with kleptomania doesn't just affect them—it often spills over into their personal relationships. The constant guilt, shame, and fear can create an emotionally charged atmosphere, adding stress to loved ones and fostering feelings of helplessness or frustration.

Career Repercussions: Navigating Choppy Waters

Kleptomania can also impact an individual's professional life. The cognitive distress and preoccupation with stealing can affect job performance, while the potential legal consequences pose a risk to one's professional reputation.

Performance Decline: A Slippery Slope

The constant preoccupation with stealing and the associated emotional turmoil can make it difficult for individuals with kleptomania to concentrate on their work. This often results in reduced productivity and a decline in job performance.

Reputation Risk: A Stumbling Block

Being caught stealing can have severe professional consequences. It can lead to job loss, tarnish one's professional reputation, and create obstacles in future job searches.

Social Stigma: The Invisible Barrier

The social stigma associated with kleptomania presents yet another challenge. Misunderstandings and judgment about kleptomania can lead to social isolation and discrimination.

Misunderstandings and Judgment: A Thorny Path

Many people lack a proper understanding of kleptomania, viewing it merely as criminal behavior rather than a legitimate mental health disorder. This misunderstanding often translates into judgment and prejudice, making it difficult for individuals with kleptomania to seek help or share their experiences.

Social Isolation: The Lonely Island

Due to the fear of judgment and discrimination, individuals with kleptomania may withdraw from social situations, leading to isolation. This isolation can exacerbate feelings of depression and anxiety, creating a vicious cycle that's hard to break.

Living with kleptomania is a journey fraught with social challenges. However, understanding these challenges is the first step towards overcoming them. By fostering understanding, promoting empathy, and seeking professional help, it's possible to mitigate the social consequences of kleptomania and lead a fulfilling life. [6]

Triumph Over Kleptomania: Inspiring Recovery Stories

Alexis Carleton

Alexis bravely opens up about their personal struggle with kleptomania, a condition they were officially diagnosed with in 2012. They draw parallels between their stealing addiction and drug addiction, highlighting the similar cycle of build-up, release, guilt, and repetition. They express frustration at the lack of support groups for kleptomania, especially in their locality in Columbia, SC, with the closest being in New York and the nearest treatment center in Michigan.

Despite attempts to establish a local support group, they face challenges due to stigma and misunderstanding. They stress the importance of peer support and the negative impact of keeping the issue silent and shameful.

Youtube: Kleptomania and Me -- My Experiences, Repercussions and Recovery


The individual admits to having made numerous regrettable decisions in their life, including repeatedly stealing from various stores. They initially believed they would never get caught or face any serious consequences. However, their naivety led to accumulating several police cases, some more serious than others. They now acknowledge their wrongdoing and express deep regret, realizing the gravity of their actions and the potential for long-term imprisonment. The individual urges others not to make the same mistakes, highlighting the loss of trust and opportunities that can result from a criminal record.

The person offers advice to those who might be struggling with similar issues. They suggest finding alternative ways to cope with the urge to steal, such as indulging in fun activities, finding creative ways to entertain oneself, or reaching out to friends or family for a chat. They strongly emphasize the potential loss that comes with continued shoplifting and the negative social implications.

Youtube: Kleptomania and Me -- My Experiences, Repercussions and Recovery


Kleptomania is a treatable mental health condition, but the journey to recovery can be difficult. Understanding the disorder and its symptoms is the first step in overcoming it. Many people can succeed by seeking professional help and following the treatment plan. Anyone with Kleptomania can lead a productive life with the right mindset, help from a mental health provider, and support.

To help improve your mental health, uncover the art of building meaningful connections with online therapist influencers - harness the power of engagement to enhance your therapeutic journey and accelerate your personal growth.


What triggers Kleptomania?

Kleptomania is thought to be caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals, such as serotonin, that regulate brain activity. Stressful life events, a family history of impulse control disorders, and having a mental health condition can also trigger Kleptomania.

What doctor treats Kleptomania?

Psychiatrists and psychologists are the two types of doctors who specialize in treating Kleptomania. A psychiatrist can prescribe medications to help treat the disorder, while a psychologist can provide behavioral therapies. Depending on your condition, you may need to see both a psychiatrist and psychologist to get the best treatment for Kleptomania.


  1. The Kleptomania Connection between Serotonin and Stealing
  2. Kleptomania and Potential Exacerbating Factors - PMC
  3. Kleptomania Disorder
  4. Conceptualization and Treatment of Kleptomania Behaviors Using Cognitive and Behavioral Strategies
  5. Pubmed: Kleptomania and Potential Exacerbating Factors
  6. Sage Journals: Making Sense of Kleptomania: Clinical Considerations
  7. Youtube: Kleptomania and Me -- My Experiences, Repercussions and Recovery