Social Media: Humor And Truth In Anxiety Memes

Medically reviewed by Nikki Ciletti, M.Ed, LPC
Updated April 2, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Thanks to the internet and social media, most people tend to be familiar with the meme. These tidbits of information, usually text overlaid on top of photos, can be like electronic postcards that travel all over the digital world. Funny memes related to anxiety or other mental health challenges can provide some comic relief around serious topics. Depression memes, for example, may be quite beneficial to those living with the condition. However, memes generally aren’t a cure for anxiety or other mental health conditions. If you’re living with anxiety symptoms that negatively affect your daily life, working with a therapist online or in person can help you experience relief and improved well-being.

Getty/Luis Alvarez
Anxiety disorders aren’t a laughing matter

Coping with humor

For those of us who experience mental health issues, memes can be an important tool for self-expression. Among the millions of memes floating around on the internet, funny anxiety memes can be abundant. Anxiety memes may allow those who experience anxiety to poke a little fun at themselves, relate to others, and help each other understand the truth of anxiety behind the humor.

It's likely no wonder that memes are so popular. A funny photo or video can be a simple but effective way of conveying a message, and you’ve likely heard the phrase, “Laughter is the best medicine”. A number of scientific studies conducted in the last thirty years have confirmed many potential physiological benefits of humor. The more we laugh, the longer we tend to live, and the less stress we may feel on a daily basis.

Humor therapy can be a real thing. Humor may be incorporated into official therapy sessions or prescribed as part of an at-home practice in destressing and managing anxiety. Laughing about all the funny and not-so-funny things in life can contribute to the immune system's ability to function. It can also combat anxiety and stress levels in our bodies.

Humor often has a positive effect on our psyches, and it can be used to reappraise upsetting events or images. Increasing playfulness and humor can enhance well-being, and that's exactly what anxiety memes tend to do. They can enable those who are coping with the negative effects of anxiety to approach it with a bit of whimsy and frivolity. By addressing it in a lighthearted way, they may experience a little bit of relief and understand they aren’t alone.

The importance of storytelling

While anxiety memes may not be a cure for anxiety, they can be part of the treatment. In a way, memes can be a method of telling one's story. Storytelling typically increases empathy for those who bear witness, whether it be listening to the story or reading the words. In a study published in Basic and Applied Social Psychology, researchers discovered that people who read stories, mostly fiction, generally increased their empathy toward others, especially for those who would be considered "outsiders".

While memes may not be fictional novels, they can still tell a story. Anxiety memes can be a powerfully concise way of telling the world how you are feeling at a given moment or providing insight into your daily struggles in an off-beat, humorous way. Memes can be a way to tell your own story to others, one snippet at a time.

The relevance of social media

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While the concept of the meme has generally been around for some time, its popularity has likely been propelled forward by social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. The power of social media can be immense. It can spark social movements in a fraction of the time that massive societal changes took to form in the past.

It can divide us by highlighting all the differences we have with each other, potentially subjecting individuals to judgment and disassociation. But it can also unite us by enabling us to gain an appreciation for each other's struggles and helping us find common ground.

Above all, social media can be a lightning-fast tool for communication that we can use for good or bad. The use of social media to spread funny memes often lets us discuss and find humor in some of our biggest problems. It can also help us identify with each other and acknowledge that many of us experience the same challenges.

The power of the meme

Why are funny anxiety memes useful for someone living with anxiety? Many of us with anxiety, particularly social anxiety, tend to have a hard time connecting with others. Whether it may be during social situations, while doing our job, or when we interact on the internet, it can be hard to tune out anxious thoughts.

Humor can be a uniting factor in our lives. When we laugh together, we may automatically form a connection. Humor can have the power to bring the most unlikely people together. We may use it to poke fun at life and make it through tough situations.

Social interaction

Some people may feel so anxious about social interaction that they completely avoid it, potentially increasing their sense of isolation. This can turn into a never-ending cycle of negative talk individuals may struggle to reach out and form the social bonds they may want and need. Anxiety can make it hard for people to go out on a date, network for their job, or even enjoy a night in with friends.

Social anxiety memes can help us tell the world, "Hey, I'm dealing with this, but I do want friends," in a funny way. Thus, it can help others understand who we are behind the anxiety.

Helping others understand you

Often, people with anxiety can be misunderstood. Some people may come off as snobby instead of shy or rude instead of anxious, for example. When we meet people, we may not make eye contact, or we might run away instead of making conversation. People may misinterpret this behavior as an affront and take it personally. 

Anxiety memes can be a way for anxious people to say, "It's not you, it's me!" An informative and funny post can help others understand where you're coming from and not take it personally.

Feeling connected

Getty/PeopleImages
Anxiety disorders aren’t a laughing matter

Through memes, you can identify and deepen connections with what would otherwise be casual online friends. Connecting with others, even in a virtual way, can be one small step toward decreasing those feelings of isolation that can often be caused by anxiety.

Getting it off your chest

One tried and true method for coping with a concern like anxiety can be to talk or write about it to get it off your chest. Memes can be an effective way to unburden yourself of negative or anxious thoughts.

Anxiety treatment

Sending out a funny photo or a batch of social anxiety memes will not likely cure you of your anxiety. In general, anxiety is not a laughing matter. Instead, it’s something that often requires professional help and thorough treatment. But a little humor and sarcasm, telling your story, and communicating your feelings may ease the everyday burden of anxiety in a small way.

A licensed therapist can help you learn to manage symptoms of anxiety and find calm and happiness again. Many people experiencing moderate or severe anxiety hesitate to reach out for help, though. In some cases, they may be too anxious to leave the house, or they may have social anxiety that prevents them from talking to new people in person. This is when online therapy may be a better option. In an internet-based setting, individuals with anxiety may feel more comfortable discussing their symptoms, and they can receive professional help without having to leave their homes. 

This form of therapy can be quite effective in treating anxiety. A recent study found that online interventions can alleviate anxiety symptoms just as effectively as in-person therapy. In this study, college students with anxiety typically showed no significant difference in outcomes after undergoing traditional and internet-based interventions. 

Takeaway

A well-captioned photo or meme can be a funny way of showing your online community what it’s like to feel anxious, experience anxiety attacks, or live with other mental health challenges. It may also give you a little temporary relief from anxiety symptoms and remind you that you’re not alone. For more long-term recovery from anxiety, in-person or online therapy can be a valuable tool.
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