These negative social media behaviors are linked to depression

While scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, did you ever feel that everyone else is living their life better than you? Such social media behaviors are linked with major depressive disorder (MDD), said researchers.

In a study of over 500 millennials who actively use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and/or Snapchat, the team from Texas State University identified five key social media factors associated with MDD.

Individuals who were more likely to compare themselves to others better off than they were, those who indicated that they would be more bothered by being tagged in unflattering pictures and those less likely to post pictures of themselves along with other people were more likely to meet the criteria for MDD.

The study, reported in the Journal of Applied Biobehavioural Research, also found that participants following over 300 Twitter accounts were less likely to have MDD. Participating in negative social media behaviors is also associated with a higher likelihood of having MDD.

“While the study highlights social media behaviors that are associated with major depression, it is important to recognize that social media use can offer many positive benefits, including fostering social support,” said Krista Howard, from the Texas State University.

“The key is for individuals to develop an awareness of how they currently use social media and to determine what changes could be made in their social media use to reduce the behaviors associated with psychological distress.

“Some changes could include reducing the time spent on social media, unfollowing individuals or groups that cause distress, or limiting online social comparisons,” Howard said.

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