Is Excessive Texting a Sign of Mental Illness? 

Is Excessive Texting a Sign of Mental Illness 

As of today, 92% of people worldwide own smartphones and instant messaging apps. With the rise of gadgets in the digital age, sending and receiving text messages has become easier than ever before. Since texting doesn’t require an internet connection, it continues to hold the top form of communication despite fierce competition from the likes of Messenger and WhatsApp. But is excessive texting a sign of mental illness? The answer may not be straightforward, but research shows that there may be a link between excessive texting and certain mental health conditions. 

Excessive texting is generally considered to be the overuse of texting as a means of communication. This can include sending and receiving a high volume of texts, spending excessive amounts of time texting, and feeling compelled to respond to texts immediately. While it can be a convenient way to stay in touch with friends and family, excessive texting can become problematic when it interferes with daily activities and responsibilities.

Mental illness and communication patterns are closely linked. Research has shown that individuals who text too much may suffer from psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and physical disorders. While it is not a definitive sign of mental illness, it may be an indicator that someone is struggling with their mental health. 

What is a Text Message (SMS)?

What is a Text Message (SMS)

A text message, also known as SMS (Short Message Service), is a short written message sent from one mobile phone to another. SMS messages typically have a limit of 160 characters, however you can send multiple text messages at once. 

While used for brief and casual communication, people send and receive SMS messages using a mobile network and require a mobile phone or smartphone, although you can find texting services over the internet too. 

What is Excessive Texting?

Excessive texting is a term used to describe when an individual sends or receives an unusually high number of text messages, spends an excessive amount of time texting, and feels compelled to respond to text messages immediately. While there is no specific number of messages that can be considered excessive, it is generally agreed that if texting begins to interfere with daily life or causes distress, it may be a sign of a problem.

Texting Frequency Standards

According to a study published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, the average college student sends and receives around 100 text messages per day, although this number can vary per individual. Some people may only send a few texts per day, while others may send hundreds.

It is important to note that what is considered excessive may also depend on the context. For example, sending 50 texts in a day may not be excessive if it is for work-related purposes, but it may be excessive if it is for personal reasons. 

Psychological Perspectives

From a psychological perspective, excessive texting may be a sign of underlying mental health issues. For instance, individuals with anxiety disorders may use texting as a way to seek reassurance or avoid face-to-face interactions. Those with depression may use texting as a way to connect with others without having to leave the house.

However, excessive texting alone is not enough to diagnose a mental health condition. Some individuals may simply enjoy texting or find it to be a convenient way to communicate. Additionally, certain situations, such as long-distance relationships or family emergencies, may increase the texting frequency.

If texting interferes with daily life or causes distress, then it’s necessary to assess the situation. Stay aware of your own texting habits and seek help if you feel that your texting behavior is becoming problematic and out of your control. 

Mental Illness and Communication Patterns

Mental Illness and Communication Patterns

Mental illness can have a significant impact on how people communicate, both in-person and digitally. Communication is a complex process that involves verbal and nonverbal cues, and mental health disorders can affect both aspects of communication.


Anxiety disorders can affect the way people communicate through texting. People with anxiety often use self-focused gestures such as playing with their hair or clothing. They may also overuse emoticons or use excessive punctuation marks to convey their feelings, which can make their texts appear self-focused. On the other hand, those who don’t struggle with anxiety often use object-focused gestures such as focusing on what they are talking about. 

In a study investigating the use of emojis as a screening tool for depressive symptoms, Marengo et al. (2019) found negative-based emojis such as the sad face to accurately identify individuals experiencing depressive and anxiety symptoms, suggesting they may have been used not to just strengthen the text, but also to represent their current feelings (Donovan, 2016).

Another common texting behavior among people with anxiety is ruminating over the content of their messages. Individuals may spend a lot of time crafting and editing their texts, trying to make sure they are convey the right message. This can lead to a delay in responding to messages, which may be perceived as disinterest or rudeness.


Depression can also affect digital communication patterns. People with depression may be less likely to initiate conversations or respond to messages, which can be perceived as disinterest or aloofness. They may also use shorter and less descriptive messages, which can make it difficult for others to understand their feelings and intentions.

Depression can also lead to a lack of interest in socializing, which may also result in decreased communication with others. This can lead to a cycle of isolation and loneliness, causing feelings of depression. A study implied that those with greater depressive symptoms report more frequent negative social interactions and react more strongly to them. Additionally, their symptoms may sensitize them to everyday experiences in both social rejection and social acceptance (Steger & Kashdan, 2003)

Take note that not all communication patterns are indicative of mental health disorders. It is possible that mental illness can lead to excessive texting. Therefore, it may be worth speaking to a mental health professional to determine if there are any underlying issues that need to be addressed. 

What is Excessive Texting

Research Findings

Statistical Data on Texting and Mental Health

Several studies have been conducted to determine the relationship between texting and mental health. A study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that excessive smartphone use is associated with difficulties in cognitive-emotion regulation, impulsivity, impaired cognitive function, addiction to social networking, shyness, and low self-esteem. 

Another study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found a positive correlation between texting and externalizing symptoms such as aggression and rule-breaking behavior.

A systematic review of observational studies published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found mixed results regarding the relationship between mobile phone use and mental health. While some studies found a positive correlation resulting in mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety, others found no significant association.

In conclusion, while there is some evidence suggesting that excessive texting may be a sign of mental illness, further research is needed to determine the causal relationship between texting and mental health.

Psychological Disorders on Texting 

Jennie Carroll, a technology researcher from RMIT University in Melbourne, has looked into the effects of modern forms of communication for the past nine years. She said that “it is just what teenagers do with phones” when it comes to text messaging. 

She explained four new terminologies or disorders that have emerged from teenage Australian “text addicts,” identifying the risks they face including anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and “repetitive thumb syndrome.”

1. Textaphrenia

The anxiety of hearing texts or imagining the vibrations of a mobile phone that has not occured. It is also constantly checking the mobile for text messages. 

2. Textiety 

The anxiety of not receiving or sending text messages. There is also a deep fear that an individual has no friends or well wishers who can respond to their messages. 

According to Carroll, this has often been linked to schizophrenia and anxiety disorders respectively. Additionally, textaphrenia and textiety individuals have a feeling that “no one loves me, no one’s contacted me.”

3. Post Traumatic Text Disorder 

Involves physical or mental injuries from texting, such as walking into things while texting and even crossing the road without looking. 

Carroll mentioned that young people are in a bubble when they are communicating via text messages and too focused on it. In fact, there were reports in Japan of repetitive thumb syndrome and thumbs growing because of texting. 

4. Binge Texting

Involves sending out multiple text messages to boost self-confidence and try to attract more responses. Carroll explained that “This is the reverse of the anxiety – you think you’ve been left out of the loop so you send a lot of texts and wait for responses.”

Impacts of Excessive Texting

Excessive texting can have various impacts on your life, including social, cognitive, and emotional consequences. In this section, we will explore these impacts in more detail.

  • Social Implications

Excessive texting can have negative social implications. When you spend too much time texting, you may miss out on face-to-face interactions with friends and family. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation. Additionally, excessive texting can lead to a decrease in productivity, as you may spend more time texting than working or studying.

In the 2014 book “Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain,” Daniel Siegel shares how the brain development during adolescence influences their behavior and relationships. With a strong burst of energy, they want to try new things, explore the world, and role-play. They also want to connect and surround themselves with others. If they experience too much isolation, it may lead to risky behavior, poor decision-making, and even depression. 

  • Cognitive Effects

Excessive texting can also have cognitive effects. When you spend too much time texting, you may experience difficulties in concentration and memory. Excessive texting can also lead to poor problem-solving skills, and you may end up relying on others to solve your problems through texting rather than solving them by yourself. 

Sherry Turkkle, a psychologist and director at Initiative on Technology believes that excessive texting may cause a shift in the way teens develop. There’s a constant disruption in a teen’s attention from the task at hand, with very little ability to stay focused. 

  • Emotional Consequences

Excessive texting can also have emotional consequences. When you spend too much time texting, you may experience increased levels of stress and anxiety. Excessive texting can also lead to a low self-esteem, as you may compare yourself to others through texting or social media. 

Since excessive texting can have various negative impacts on your life, it’s necessary to find a balance between texting and face-to-face interactions, as well as between texting and other activities such as work and study.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you suspect that your excessive texting habits are affecting your life in a negative way, consider seeking help from a mental health professional who can help diagnose and treat any underlying mental health conditions that may be contributing to your actions. 

Psychiatric Evaluation

A psychiatric evaluation is an important first step in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. During a psychiatric evaluation, a mental health professional will assess your symptoms, medical history, and family history to determine if you have a mental health condition. The evaluation may also include psychological testing to help identify any underlying issues.

Therapeutic Interventions

Therapeutic interventions can be an effective approach to treating mental illness and reducing a person’s habits of excessive texting. Different types of therapy may be used depending on the specific mental health condition. 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common form of therapy that can be used to treat a variety of mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression. It can also help individuals recognize their negative thoughts and behaviors while replacing them with positive ones. 

In addition, medication may also be prescribed to manage their symptoms. Thus, it’s important to work closely with a mental health professional who can personalize the best course of treatment for your needs. 

Prevention Strategies

If you find yourself texting excessively, there are several prevention strategies that can help you develop healthy communication habits and reduce the risk of mental health issues. Here are a few tips to consider:

Healthy Communication Habits

  • Be mindful of your texting habits: Take note of how much time you spend texting or checking your phone. 
  • Set boundaries: Keep your friends and family aware of when you are available to text. Otherwise, consider turning off your phone during certain hours of the day, such as during meals or before bed. 
  • Practice active listening: When you are having a conversation with someone, focus on what they are saying rather than thinking about your response or checking your phone.
  • Use alternative forms of communication: Instead of texting, consider calling or meeting in person to have a conversation.

Digital Detoxification Methods

  • Turn off your phone or put it on airplane mode for a specific time each day.
  • Delete social media apps or limit your time on them.
  • Use apps that track your phone usage and set limits on your screen time.
  • Find alternative activities to do instead of texting, such as exercising, reading, or spending time with friends and family.

By implementing these prevention strategies, you can develop healthy communication habits and reduce the risk of mental health issues associated with excessive texting.

Expert Opinions

When it comes to excessive texting as a sign of mental illness, experts have varying opinions on the matter. Here are some insights from clinical psychologists and technological ethicists:

Clinical Psychologist Insights

Psychologist Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne shares how “texting can be a way to avoid face-to-face interactions, which can be a symptom of social anxiety.” She advises anyone who finds themselves texting excessively and tries to avoid in-person conversations to seek professional help to address any underlying anxiety issues. 

Technological Ethicist Views

Technological ethicist Dr. Shannon Vallor argues that “texting can be a sign of addiction, but not necessarily a mental illness.” She explains that while excessive texting can have negative consequences on mental health, it doesn’t necessarily mean that someone has a diagnosable mental health condition. She also notes that the way people use technology is often shaped by societal norms and expectations, influencing one’s behavior. 

By keeping these in mind, it’s important to look into our texting habits and make necessary changes for a better quality of life. It’s also worth considering societal and cultural factors that may be influencing our use of technology in the digital age of today. 


Can excessive texting behaviors be indicative of an underlying compulsive disorder?

Yes, excessive texting behaviors may be indicative of an underlying compulsive disorder. For instance, individuals with anxiety disorders or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) may engage in excessive texting as a way to manage their anxiety or compulsions. However, not everyone who excessively texts is diagnosed with a mental disorder, therefore it’s important to re-assess one’s texting habits and seek professional help if needed. 

What might prevent an individual from responding to texts, and is it related to mental health?

There are many reasons why an individual might not respond to texts, and it may or may not be related to mental health. For instance, they may be busy or not have access to their phone. However, if they consistently avoid responding to texts or have difficulty with communication in general, it may be related to underlying mental health issues such as social anxiety or avoidant personality disorder.

How does one differentiate between normal texting habits and potential harassment?

Normal texting habits involve respectful and appropriate communication between individuals. On the other hand, potential harassment involves unwanted, threatening, or abusive messages that are intended to harm or intimidate someone. To prevent any harmful text messages, it’s necessary to set clear boundaries with anyone you encounter and seek help if you experience harassment via text message. 

What are the recognized treatments or interventions for compulsive texting behavior?

There are several effective treatments and interventions for compulsive texting behavior. These include cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and mindfulness-based interventions. These treatments can also help individuals manage their anxiety, compulsions, and other underlying mental health issues that may be contributing to the texting behaviors.