Is Social Media the Cause of Your Depression?

April 19, 2016

10:15 am

A new study finds that the more social media that young adults engage in, the stronger likelihood they are dealing with depression.

The study highlights the need for guiding clinical and public health interventions to properly tackle depression, as it’s now being predicted to as the “leading cause of disability in high-income countries by 2030”.

Studies haven’t dived as in-depth as they could, though have still yielded important statistical analysis that can be used to better predict strategies to help users cope with their depression. When it comes to linking users’ mental health status to social media platforms, the area is still vastly unexplored. However, this is the first large, nationally represented study that examines associations between a broad range of outlets and depression.

“Because social media has become such an integrated component of human interaction, it is important for clinicians interacting with young adults to recognize the balance to be struck in encouraging potential positive use, while redirecting from problematic use,” says senior author Brian A. Primack, director of the Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health at the University of Pittsburgh.

On average participants used social media a total of 61 minutes per day and visited various accounts 30 times a week. More than a quarter of the participants were classified as having “high” indicators of depression. The research also found significant and linear connections between social media use and depression whether use was measured in terms of total time spent or frequency of visits. What makes social media so dangerous for users that struggle with depression and other mental health issues is the amplification of feelings like envy.

A similar article from the World Economic Forum reports:

“Exposure to highly idealized representations of peers on social media elicits feelings of envy and the distorted belief that others lead happier, more successful lives.Engaging in activities of little meaning on social media may give a feeling of ‘time wasted’ that negatively influences mood. Social media use could be fueling ‘internet addiction,’ a proposed psychiatric condition closely associated with depression.Spending more time on social media may increase the risk of exposure to cyber-bullying or other similar negative interactions, which can cause feelings of depression.”

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Cameron is a tech and culture journalist, comic book enthusiast, and lives near New York City. A graduate of Stockton University, she's using her words to shift the world of online journalism, one byline at a time. When she's not writing, she can be found reading sci-fi novels, collecting succulents, and planning her next obnoxious hair color. Cameron is an editorial fellow at Tech.Co. Send your tips to or tweet @BlkGirlManifest.

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