Here is how Facebook is making you depressed


The present decade has witnessed an exponential growth in the number of social media users. Facebook alone has an estimated increase of over 500 million users.

With these staggering figures, it becomes clear right at the onset that the medical consequences (if any) of social media are likely to effect an exceedingly large population.

Since the boom of social networking websites is less than a decade old, relatively little is known about the health-related implications. Recently, however, several studies have been published highlighting the concern.

Depression is the most common psychiatric diagnosis. Besides the morbidity of the condition, it is the leading cause of suicide. In last year alone, five studies indicating a plausible association between Facebook usage and depression have been published in the PubMed database alone, necessitating the need of a thorough investigation to explore the association.

In fact, researchers have now proposed a new term “Facebook depression” defined as “depression that develops when preteens and teens spend a great deal of time on social media sites, such as Facebook, and then begin to exhibit classic symptoms of depression.”

The factors that are more likely to result in depression among the users are amount of time spent, online reinforcement from depressed peers and online response from friends to a status update disclosing depressive symptom. It is well known that the adolescent population suffering from depression is at a risk of social isolation.

Another concern is that those who are depressed are likely to explore online ways to relieve the depression. Given the vast amount of information available online, the fear is that they may turn to content which is not peer reviewed and hence resort to substance abuse, and aggressive and self-destructive behavior.

On the other hand, given the large number of users and the frequency of depression, there’s an opening to promote mental health by promoting the knowledge about psychiatric diagnosis and reducing the stigma of these mental conditions. The choice is all ours!

About the author: Dr Haris Riaz graduated from Dow Medical College, Pakistan. He serves as the Chief Editor at the Journal of Pakistan Medical Students

Article source AFP

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