Can Looking at Facebook Make You Feel Depressed?

A woman stares at her laptopIf you find yourself endlessly scanning Facebook only to feel worse about yourself or your life, you’re not alone. According to a new study published in Computers in Human Behavior, consistent use of Facebook increases users’ risk of depression.

Can Facebook Make You Depressed?

Researchers studied the mood effects of Facebook in a three-phase study. In the first phase, they analyzed 123 active Facebook users who spoke German. In the second phase, 263 participants self-selected through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk program. In both groups, researchers noticed a mood decline after participants used the social networking site.

In the third phase of the study, researchers asked 101 active Facebook users whether logging into Facebook would improve their mood. Participants reported that they felt lonelier and less happy when logging off of the site.

Social Media’s Grim Mental Health Record

This isn’t the first study to find a correlation between Facebook and unhappiness. A 2013 study followed 82 users over two weeks, and uncovered a correlation between frequent Facebook use and decreased short-term happiness. Even more troubling, Facebook users reported lower overall life satisfaction. Another 2013 study of over 1,000 Facebook users found a correlation between low self-esteem and regular Facebook use. However, when researchers controlled for variables such as income and gender, the correlation between Facebook use and low self-esteem was less significant.

The negative effects of Facebook might not be an accident, either. While Facebook users repeatedly site a desire to connect with others as a reason for using the site, some research shows that people’s reasons for using Facebook are more complicated. One recent study, for example, found that middle-aged Facebook users frequently use their statuses as a chance to brag to their friends—the study’s authors believe that Facebook is a way for people to feel that they’re approved of and validated by their peer groups. This pressure to be perceived in a specific way on Facebook might partially explain why Facebook can have negative effects on mental health.

References:

  1. Facebook can make you lonely, depressed: Study. (2014, September 8). Retrieved from http://ibnlive.in.com/news/facebook-can-make-you-lonely-depressed-study/497279-11.html
  2. Herrerra, T. (2013, August 15). The more you use Facebook, the less happy you’ll be: Study – am New York. Retrieved from http://www.amny.com/opinion/the-more-you-use-facebook-the-less-happy-you-ll-be-study-1.7051962
  3. Ngak, C. (2013, September 13). Facebook addicts may have lower self-esteem, says study. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/facebook-addicts-may-have-lower-self-esteem-says-study/
  4. Nolan, S. (2013, June 12). Facebook and Twitter fuel narcissism in different ways: Younger people tweet to boast while middle-aged regularly update their status. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2340594/University-study-finds-Facebook-Twitter-fuel-narcissism-different-ways.html

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  • Janice

    Janice

    September 9th, 2014 at 10:31 AM

    I sure don’t go on facebook to seek other people’s approval, but you better believe that there are others that when I see their posts they are so transparent that they are begging someone to like what they say or what they have been doing.

    I guess maybe facebook updates are not for those who choose to live their lives a little more privately, and sure I post updates from time to time but never in a way that I think is seeking approval or that I am showing off to other people.

    If we are all middle aged and doing things like that then maybe we just need to get on snapchat or instagram with our teenagers because that’s what we are acting like.

  • raina

    raina

    September 9th, 2014 at 3:11 PM

    If you are going to be depressed by looking at Facebook then maybe it is time for you to take a little bit of a social media time out. People are always posting this and that on there and some stuff you just have to take with a grain of salt. Some of it si true and some of it isn’t and truthfully I don’t really care. I care about the things that my family and i do and if I think that it could be interesting to someone else or I am proud of it then yeah I will post about it. I don’t though necessarily think that you have to know what I am baking for dinner every night the way some people do. Now the meals that I sometimes hear trell of? That’s what depresses me MY cooking skills pale by comparison to most.

  • caroline

    caroline

    September 10th, 2014 at 4:03 AM

    Don’t know if it alone can cause you to be depressed but I can see how looking at things that others are doing and that they have and you feel like you don’t, how for someone who is already experiencing some form of depression could be made to feel worse for seeing all of that.
    Don’t think that there are those who would intentionally want to set out and make you feel this way, at least not those who are actually your friends, I just think that there are those who use this as a way of sharing and updating everything that is happening in their lives and when someone seems to be having a string of great luck and you really feel like your life sucks right now then this could serve to make you feel even worse.

  • Greg

    Greg

    September 11th, 2014 at 4:01 AM

    take a little sabbatical from the site
    you could go cold turkey and see if this makes you feel better
    if it does then you know that this is contributing to your depression
    if you still don’t feel any better then you should probably see a therapist because you could be clinically depressed and need someone to talk to

  • Baker

    Baker

    September 11th, 2014 at 3:23 PM

    Seriously if this is causing you this much angst then you have to find a way to let it go. I know that it can be tempting to look and see the different things going on with different people but it sure would be a whole lot better if you could not obsess over it!

  • D. C.

    D. C.

    October 20th, 2015 at 10:08 AM

    I go under an alias name on Facebook – that way, no one from High School can bother me – it’s just safer that way. I do have my times where I look at people’s pages and I do get depressed, because everyone seems to be happy and/or well off; however, sometimes, I think that’s further from the truth. Facebook to me is a contest to see who became the best looking, the richest, the best house, the best looking spouse, etc. My half-sister brags and boasts majority of the time about herself on Facebook – but I exactly what goes on behind close doors. She whines to our Mom how much debt she’s in since her divorce, how she never has money to do things – how she skips paying one bill in order to pay the other bill and how much her credit has tanked. However, looking at her Facebook pages – no one would be able to know that – she won’t tell the truth about that. She thinks that the whole world revolves around herself and her two teenage children. I saw a study on CBS News that b/c of social media, 47% of Americans are self-absorbed. The only ones that I care about is my b/f, my full sister, and my mother, the rest of these Facebook Fools i couldn’t give two craps about them – b/c deep down, do they really give a crap about me? Another thing to – if you want to share your life and world with other people – why can’t people have it on Privacy – they don’t care either, they put out everything for everyone else to see. Even on my Facebook page, I don’t tell people where I work and/or my relationship status – I only tell them when I see them – that’s it. I don’t even post pics of me and my b/f online either – we both respect each other’s privacy and we don’t have to prove to the world we’re together.

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