Facebook and Depression

There is no denying that Facebook is a huge part of today’s culture and there is an ever growing trend into researching the effects this social media platform has on our day to day lives, including our mental health.

The latest reported released today reports a link between being envious of your friends on Facebook and depression.

A new type of Facebook use has been termed ‘surveillance user’ where people use the site to compare their achievements to others. This can have a detrimental effect on the user’s mental health according to the researchers at the University of Missouri, Columbia.

Margaret Duffy, chair of Strategic Communication at the MU School of Journalism, expresses how Facebook ‘can be fun and healthy ‘ and should be used to ‘stay connected with family and old friends and to share interesting and important aspects of their lives’. The problem comes when this is used to find out more about how happy and successful old acquaintances are in their lives now. These successes can be compared to the user’s life and this can lead to feelings of envy.

Of the 700 students surveyed it was found that individuals who used the site to ‘spy on friends’ reported feelings of depression. Reading posts about lavish holidays, new houses or job promotions can lead to envy and ultimately trigger depressive feelings.

Duffy says ‘Facebook can be a very positive resource for many people, but if it is used as a way to size up one’s own accomplishments against others, it can have a negative effect. It is important for Facebook users to be aware of these risks so they can avoid this kind of behavior when using Facebook.’