Many parents try to help their children make healthy and wise decisions from the moment they are born. As children get older, their parental influence decreases and their peers’ opinions become more important. But peer pressure doesn’t just affect children. Peer pressure can also affect adults. It can also affect adults’ thoughts, actions and behaviors. This includes academic performance, substance abuse, mental health, and the latter, which we will discuss today: peer pressure’s effect on mental health.
Different types of peer pressure
Peer pressure is the pressure from others to behave in a certain manner, regardless of whether they are good or bad. Peer pressure can start in elementary school and persist into adulthood. As we socialize with other people and experience social fluctuations throughout our adolescences, so do we socially fluctuate as adults.
Below are six types of peer pressure to help you better understand peer pressure and how to recognize it.
- Spoken When a peer influences your behavior through vocal persuasion, suggestion or influence.
- Unspoken When you identify yourself with certain characteristics of a group.
- Positive: There is no spoken or unspoken pressure to do something good, like spend more time with friends or eat better.
- Negative: Unspoken or spoken pressure to conform to a group or do something that is wrong, even if it is hurtful or wrong.
- Direct: It can be spoken or unspoken, but it is often recognizable.
- Indirect: Peer pressure is a powerful influence.
Although peer pressure can be helpful, it is bad peer pressure that we should be most concerned about. This is when you are forced to do something that you don’t want or know for certain is wrong. This could be spending more than you planned on while shopping with friends, or even drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
Extreme cases of peer pressure may lead to a lifestyle that is beyond your financial capabilities or puts you and those you love in danger. You may change your appearance and speech to fit in with a unhealthy lifestyle or crowd. It can also affect your mental health, relationships, and physical well-being.
What does peer pressure have to do with mental health?
Peer pressure is a major factor in mental health. This is something many people don’t realize. Peer pressure can be subtle and even occur in loving relationships. Peer pressure can be a good thing. However, it can cause mental problems. Below are some signs that peer pressure can have a negative impact on your mental health.
Your confidence is shot
Your confidence is the first thing that will affect your mental health. Do you feel confident? Peer pressure can make someone who is normally confident the worst overthinker in their group. Your confidence may plummet if you spend a lot of time with people who constantly press you to act, think or behave in a certain manner.
You’ll find it easier to second-guess yourself over time, even when your gut says “no!” This can have a significant impact on your self-esteem and can lead to self-doubt and overthinking. It can also trigger depression.
You’re Less Productive
Peer pressure can have a negative impact on your productivity. It’s common to obsess about something if you are under pressure to do or think certain things. You have a new friend who is into rock music. Your music, fashion choices, and even your speech patterns could lead to you obsessing about your playlist. This desire to change is a result of pressure and inorganic. Eventually, your concentration may drop and your productivity at work, school, and/or at home will suffer.
This sudden shift can also affect your relationships, which can lead further stress. As you become more dependent on the external pressures to act, think, and look a certain way, your mental health can decline over time.
You’re Practicing Bad Habits
Peer pressure is often linked to substance abuse, gambling, or other self-destructive behavior. These habits can have a devastating impact on your physical and mental health. Drugs like heroin, cocaine, and alcohol can also change your character and how you interact with your loved ones. They can also affect your brain’s ability and regulation of chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine.
These are all important for your mental and physical well-being. Negative habits can become so overwhelming that they will overshadow other priorities and cause a significant decline in your psychological and physical health.
Your relationships with loved ones change
Peer pressure can have a similar effect on adults. Just as teenagers tend to listen to their friends more than their parents, it can also affect how you think about your family. When they see how others live, they often feel ashamed or embarrassed about their family.
This comparison goes beyond financial differences. It also impacts relationships with siblings, parents, values, traditions and other family members. As one feels ashamed of their family members, they might begin to treat them poorly or ignore their advice. Isolation and anxiety can lead to depression if you abruptly cut off loved ones.
You are emotionally unwell
Nearly everyone wants to have friends and be accepted. However, peer pressure can lead to you doing things that you don’t like to do in order to fit in with their circle. You might appear happy by pretending to be happy. You will eventually succumb to peer pressure and become more concerned about how others accept you.
How to deal with peer pressure
Peer pressure can lead to bullying, isolation, embarrassment and even rejection. There are many ways to protect yourself.
- You can practice your response before you speak. This leaves less room to persuade.
- To keep you accountable, bring a friend.
- With a loved one, plan a safety strategy. If you feel trapped at a party and are being forced to drink, have someone you trust to help you.
- Listen to your gut instincts. If your gut says “no”, then you should run the opposite direction.
- Talk to someone. If someone is isolated from a support group, it’s easier to force them to do something they don’t like. It’s important to speak to your spouse, parent, or therapist if you are experiencing peer pressure.
MA Mental Health Care
Peer pressure can be a serious burden on mental health and lead to dangerous behaviors such as substance abuse. Our Massachusetts treatment center can help those who have suffered from either one of these issues. Our Massachusetts treatment center offers residential mental health care and various psychotherapy programs that help clients live a happy, healthy life.
You are not the only one. Call All In Solutions Treatment Centers at 855-762-39796 to find out how we can help you with your Massachusetts inpatient drug rehab or mental health services.
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Peer Pressure Effects on Mental Health was first published on All In Solutions Treatment Centers.
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