After months of studying the patients with mysterious tics, experts at top pediatric hospitals in the U.S., Canada, Australia and the U.K. discovered something in common — TikTok.
The patients were followers of a new group of social media stars who are surging in popularity on TikTok.
These “mental health influencers” are getting billions of views by posting videos of themselves experiencing symptoms of serious disorders, like Tourette’s tics, or rapid changes in personality.
And psychologists have been alarmed to see a growing trend of teenage girls across the globe who have been showing up at doctors’ offices with tics, physical jerking movements, and verbal outbursts.
Doctors found that the patients were excessively using TikTok, watching short videos of other people exhibiting symptoms.
The top TikTokers film their involuntary tics, such as cursing, slapping themselves, or making clapping sounds. Overall, #tourettes videos were viewed more than 5 billion times on TikTok.
Other mental illnesses also have massive numbers of views. The hashtag #BPD (borderline personality disorder) has 3.7 billion views, #bipolar had 2 billion views, and #DID (dissociative identity disorder) another 1.5 billion views, according to the New York Post.
Many of these videos were aimed at “helping” viewers self-diagnose a disorder.
The problem is that many viewers seem to be incorrectly self-diagnosing themselves with disorders, or spontaneously manifesting symptoms just because they are suddenly aware of them.
Experts are now warning parents that TikTok and other social media is not just a land of silly dances and kitten videos:
“TikTok is now a breeding ground for mental disorders. The evidence that social media is harmful to young mental health is both mounting and damning. And it’s time that Gen Z — and their parents — started taking notice.”