SMART WATCHES AND MENTAL HEALTH
Technology has changed the world and made our life so much easier. Smartwatches have made monitoring heart rate tracking, physical activity, and health tracking right on our hands. They provide us quick access to notifications, we never miss our calls, navigation, emergency calls, and an extremely valuable tool for fitness. It has become a necessity for everybody in today’s world. According to recent reports, there is an increase in 50% of the number of people across the world was suffering from depression, anxiety, or other mental health problems. There are a lot of factors involved as the population has grown, there is now greater awareness among people about mental health issues and yes anxiety is on the rise more than ever now. People are becoming more inclined towards fitness and mindfulness and Smartwatches make it easier to keep a track of both of these things. Smartwatches have saved a lot of lives as well as they alarmed the person of dropping heart rate or BP which immediately made them aware of the body changes which they otherwise would not have known. These watches have been of some great help by being a life-saving device and saved people especially those with heart ailments. Despite its benefits, it is a product of concern as well as it is good for our physical health but not for our mental health. Even though it provides us with our bodily details, we start relying on it too much. a 70-year-old woman, diagnosed with a heart condition that causes her irregular heartbeats was also diagnosed with another mental health problem which was triggered by her smartwatch. She kept repeatedly checking her increasing and decreasing heart rate. It was revealed that this woman had performed 916 electrocardiograms (ECG) during one year, this data was derived from her smartwatch. She later told that these notifications from her smartwatch regarding her heartbeat made her constantly worried about her hard health which had a profound impact on her quality of life, relationship, and mental health leading to the diagnosis of illness anxiety disorder. Just like her, a lot of other patients rely on that watch for their heart conditions and many patients come to the clinic with the data of their smartwatches to show as proof of their underlining problem.
The study done on smartwatches showed that as we keep a track of the readings, we tend to overthink, get upset over the readings which can also be inconsistent as the results are not always hundred percent accurate. This inaccuracy in the watches can also lead to unnecessary stress among people. Reports have also shown that stress level tracking and BPM can be another reason to heighten anxiety in a lot of people. 2020 study done by the University of Copenhagen investigated the use of activity trackers in heart patients, the result was that even though there was a lifestyle improvement and better understanding of their physical ailment, it also increases their anxiety level. There was an increase in paranoia about small bodily changes and a lot of people started self-diagnosing themselves which does more harm than good.
People also use their smartwatches to track their sleep which is an unhealthy obsession with getting perfect sleep. A lot of people have also reported wrong results predicted by their watches so we should not completely rely on it and let our mental health be affected by it.