Social Media and Depression

Friday, April 8, 2016

Addiction to technology is a real disorder, one that can be especially difficult to treat because technology is an aspect pervasive of everyday life. Practically everyone has a computer with access to the internet, and it is probably fair to say that even more people have a smartphone of some kind. Having a device in your pocket that can be reached for at anytime can be a slippery slope, especially for people who actively use social media platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter.

Past research has shown that people who use social media may be at risk of depression, but a new study has found the link may be rooted in addiction, Reuters reports. The findings were published in the journal Depression and Anxiety, and come from 1,763 people ages 19-32, who were asked questions about their:

  • Symptoms of Depression
  • Social Media Use
  • Addictive Behaviors

“We believe that at least having clinicians be aware of these associations may be valuable to them as they treat patients with depressive disorders. For example, they may wish to inquire about social media use patterns and determine if those patterns are maladaptive,” said study coauthor Ariel Shensa of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

The researchers looked at how often the participants used 11 of the most commonly accessed social media platforms, according to the article. The sites included:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • YouTube
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • Vine
  • Snapchat
  • Reddit

Addiction to social media explained for most of the cases where social media use was linked to depression, the article reports. However, how social media is used and depression was noticeably linked together.

“Ultimately, it appears that the way social media is used, rather than the amount social media is used, leads to maladaptive outcomes,” said Lindsay Howard of the Virginia Consortium Program in Clinical Psychology.

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