Study Looks at Facebook and Risk of Depression
Comparing ourselves to others is often a habitual practice, but it can be incredibly damaging — especially when done on social media sites like Facebook.
In fact, new research has shown that making such comparisons online can lead to depression — even more so than making them in-person. The rumination and overthinking that occurs while we’re scrolling through someone’s profile has deep ties with poor mental health.
Researchers from Lancaster University in the U.K. analyzed data from 14 countries regarding social networking and depression. They discovered Facebook users were at an increased risk for depression when they:
- Experienced envy while observing others’ lives
- Were Facebook friends with their exes
- Posted negative status updates regularly
- Made negative comparisons
Unsurprisingly, women and people with neurotic tendencies were even more prone to developing depression. Considering over a billion people use Facebook, this puts a lot of people at risk.
“The findings of this review may have significant implications when taken in the context of public mental health,” the research says. “It has been suggested that psychologists should be aware of potential problematic relationships with online social networking and how this could impact mental health.”
However, the study indicates that all hope is not lost when it comes to social media: they discovered a positive relationship regarding Facebook users and social support, number of Facebook friends, and perceived social connectedness.
So, what can be done about this supposed “Facebook depression?”
- Work on your envy towards others. If other people’s vacation photos lead to you spiraling down into a depressive episode, scroll right past them. Even better, if certain people continuously bring up feelings of resentment, filter their posts so you only see important updates, or even unfollow them.
- Delete your exes. Bite the bullet and hit that ‘unfriend’ button. Your mental health will be better off without you checking up on their every move.
- Take a break. If social media is causing you a lot of strife, try taking a little break from it or check it less often. Give yourself a reprieve from all the drama and selfies!
- Remember you don’t get the whole picture. What we see on social media is not reality — it’s the best of what people choose to show us of their lives. So remember, just because someone is posting awesome vacation photos, it doesn’t mean they don’t have their own issues too.