Hooked on social media? It’s all down to the dopamine

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If you change your Facebook profile pic more often than your underwear, help is at hand.

The Tavistock and Portman Mental Health Hospital in London has opened a unit for people with serious addictions to social media.

Of the 33 million Brits on Facebook and 11 million on Twitter, many joke about being hooked. But the University of North Carolina has found that dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with addiction, is indeed released every time someone messages us.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Richard Graham has found heavy social media use is largely motivated by a desire to compete with the popularity and status of one’s peers.

Thinking about this produces the same brain activity as being depressed.