Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Psychologists reveal four ways to avoid social media-induced depression

psychological-review-studies-depression-facebook-link.jpg

For almost as long as we’ve been using social media, psychologists have been concerned about its effects on our emotional wellbeing and mental health.

Various studies have indicated that Facebook, in particular, can have a negative impact on our sense of self. It’s thought that relentlessly scrolling through your own newsfeed – or spending too much time poring over the glossy on-screen versions of other people’s lives – can be linked with feelings of envy, dissatisfaction and even depression.

But since social media looks unlikely to be going anywhere anytime soon, psychologists at Lancaster University have now decided to turn their attention to examining how we can avoid feeling low after a spell on Facebook.

phone

"Her life is so much more interesting than mine": comparing yourself to others online can lead to depression.

Dr Guillermo Perez Algorta and David Baker conducted a review of all the research on the links between social networking and depression, examining studies from 14 countries with 35,000 participants aged between 15 and 88.

They found that women and people with “neurotic personalities” (characterised by emotions including anxiety, jealousy, loneliness and fear), in particular, were found to be more likely to become depressed after using Facebook.

But they also identified certain online behaviours which have a “significant association” with depression – suggesting that steering clear of these could reduce your chances of falling victim to social media-induced misery.

computer

Overthinking about what you see on social media is rarely a good thing.

Overthinking

“Rumination”, aka overthinking, was found to be at the heart of the Facebook blues. Perez Algorta and Baker’s review suggests that rumination can lead to feelings of depression – and that overthinking often starts with negatively comparing ourselves to others.


Read more: Sunlight can seriously affect your emotional health (even if it’s raining)


Overposting (particularly if your posts are negative)

If you’re updating your status several times a day with angry rants or outpourings of misery, it’s probably time to give your keyboard a rest – and speak to someone about those feelings in real life.

Posting too often on Facebook was linked with depression, as it’s also likely to lead to rumination. Facebook users were also more at risk of depression when they made frequent negative status updates.

phone

Her ex-boyfriend had just added her as a friend and she was not feeling it at all.

Accepting your ex as a friend

If a friend request from an ex-partner pops up in your notifications, the temptation to accept – and subsequently dive into a good old online stalking session – can be hard to resist.


Read more: Friends with your ex? Apparently you’re a psychopath


But Perez Algorta and Baker cite research suggesting that seeing an ex on a social networking site – particularly if they’re with a new boyfriend or girlfriend – can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression, regardless of how clean the break-up was.


Watch: What not to say to an anxiety sufferer


Feeling envious

Easier said than done, perhaps. But your experience of social media will be much more enjoyable if you can refrain from seething with jealousy at other people’s seemingly fabulous lives. Perez Algorta and Baker found that depression was associated with envy triggered by observing others – and with making “negative social comparisons”.

Look at your own social media feeds. Chances are, what you see is a highly edited version of your real life: the highlights, rather than the sad/tedious/ugly bits. Next time you find yourself comparing yourself to others through the lens of social media, remind yourself that nobody’s life is perfect – even if it seems like it on Facebook.


For information and support about mental health issues, visit mind.org.uk.

Images: iStock, Rex Features

Related

iStock-513557036.jpg

Lucy Mangan on the mood-lifting perks of crafting

stress-reactions-gender-differences-2.jpg

This is how stress affects boys and girls differently

rexfeatures_7449733je.jpg

Selena Gomez’s speech about her mental health battle is so powerful

More

20 soothing, beautiful songs guaranteed to help you fall asleep

An expert picks the ultimate classical music playlist

by Sarah Biddlecombe
20 Oct 2017

Puppy dog eyes are a thing and your dog makes them just for you

A study says dogs change their facial expressions when humans are looking

by Amy Swales
20 Oct 2017

Here’s how to buy a house or a flat for the princely sum of £1

It's time to enter the real-estate raffle

by Megan Murray
20 Oct 2017

Oxford University under fire for shocking lack of racial diversity

One MP called the revelations an example of “social apartheid”

by Moya Crockett
20 Oct 2017

This prosecco festival is the best way to start feeling Christmassy

Bubbles, bubbles everywhere

by Susan Devaney
20 Oct 2017

Missing your 16-25 railcard? We have good news for you

Rail bosses have taken pity on cash-strapped millennials

20 Oct 2017

This man’s response to his friend’s period while hiking is everything

“I had NOTHING on me and I was wearing shorts”

by Susan Devaney
20 Oct 2017

Why anxiety makes it harder to follow your intuition

It can have a paralysing effect on decision-making

by Anna Brech
19 Oct 2017

“Why all men must work to stamp out sexual harassment and abuse”

In wake of the Weinstein allegations, one writer argues why men need to be counted

19 Oct 2017

Rage, lust, power and warmth: how it feels to experience ‘red emotions

“I grew up being told my body was terrifying and my voice was unimportant”

by The Stylist web team
19 Oct 2017