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Heavy Social Media Users 'Trapped In Endless Cycle of Depression' (independent.co.uk) 110

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Independent: The more time young adults spend on social media, the more likely they are to become depressed, a study has found. Of the 19 to 32-year-olds who took part in the research, those who checked social media most frequently throughout the week were 2.7 times more likely to develop depression than those who checked least often. The 1,787 US participants used social media for an average 61 minutes every day, visiting accounts 30 times per week. Of them a quarter were found to have high indicators of depression. "One strong possibility is that people who are already having depressive symptoms start to use social media more, perhaps because they do not feel the energy to drive to engage in as many direct social relationships," said Dr. Brian Primack, director of Pitt's Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health. "People who engage in a lot of social media use may feel they are not living up to the idealized portraits of life that other people tend to present in their profiles. [...] This would be concerning, because it would imply that there is a potential vicious circle: people who become depressed may turn to social media for support, but their excessive engagement with it might only serve to exacerbate their depression."
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Heavy Social Media Users 'Trapped In Endless Cycle of Depression'

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  • by HumanWiki ( 4493803 ) on Friday March 25, 2016 @03:49PM (#51778081)
    I was trapped in depression cycles back in USENET!!!! Pssh.. social media...
    • by plover ( 150551 )

      Yeah, but my Karma is Excellent!

  • by dunkelfalke ( 91624 ) on Friday March 25, 2016 @03:52PM (#51778105)

    It could just as well be that depressed people feel lonely and try to connect to others at least this way.

    • It seems safer. Going into real physical company has its risks, but social media are more under control. If the depressed person is fearful of a rejection, he or she can delay reading it until he or she feels up to it.

      Being on social media has got to be better than no human contact, but actual human contact would be better. At least you can let someone know you care through social media, and that's got to be worth something.

      • by N1AK ( 864906 )

        Being on social media has got to be better than no human contact, but actual human contact would be better.

        Based on what evidence? If anything, what this article suggests is that people who are on social media could be worse off because of it. If social media means people are more likely to cope with a lack of satisfaction in their life by passively viewing social media profiles and less likely to make changes to deal with the underlying issue then there is no reason to believe that social media is better t

        • Social media allows you to communicate with friends, and that's almost certainly going to be good. As far as passively viewing social media profiles goes, there's lots of things on the web you can passively view, or stupid games you can play endlessly. TFS doesn't actually have good evidence that social media causes depression, only that depression and heavy social media use are linked.

          I'm basing this on personal experience and the experience of friends.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's as if the fifth sentence in the post should say: "One strong possibility is that people who are already having depressive symptoms start to use social media more..."

    • I'm curious how much brain chemistry is affected by social media and whether or not the addictive cycle has anything to play in this area. Certainly there is compulsion involved, and with any typical 12-step program, there's the identification of compulsion used to create powerlessness. Are we powerless to stop checking Facebook or looking to see what replies our comments garner? Am I to surrender the replies to this post to my higher power? ... Well, while you ponder that, I'm going to go chew on my finger
      • It has been found that heavy users of social media have become deficient in both vitamins I and Q. Total avoidance of social media has helped some return to normal levels.

    • cmon guys at least try a LITTLE bit. from the SUMMARY -

      "One strong possibility is that people who are already having depressive symptoms start to use social media more, perhaps because they do not feel the energy to drive to engage in as many direct social relationships," said Dr. Brian Primack

      • Not really, no. It is not even nearly similar to what I have written. Dr Primack thinks that the reason is that direct social relationship is less energy consuming.
        I have written that depressed people can feel lonely and therefore try to find someone to talk on social networks - there are obviously many more people on social networks who are willing to chat (otherwise they wouldn't be on social networks in first place).

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Social media is the cause, it's been studied before. It hooks users on a system of little rewards. Every random thing in their life can be judged and rewarded with a "like". They become obsessed with getting positive feedback and start over-valuing other people's opinions. Worse still they start to think negatively when they don't get the positive feedback, even if it's just because they posted at 11PM and no one was around to hit that button.

    • I know this is Slashdot and all, so the suggestion to rtfa is somewhat ridiculous, but the lead researcher actually addressed that very point. She said that could very well be the case, and they weren't making a claim one way or the other in that regard.
  • Oh look,

    *This* shit again...

  • chicken (Score:4, Insightful)

    by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Friday March 25, 2016 @03:55PM (#51778129)
    or egg?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      How about "you're a fucking illiterate buffoon"? Is that an option?

      The fucking summary says, and I quote:

      "One strong possibility is that people who are already having depressive symptoms start to use social media more."

  • Ignorance (Score:2, Insightful)

    by messymerry ( 2172422 )
    Ignorance is the best therapy for depression. Turn off the TV, kill the Internet for an evening, sit down with a good book or a movie (no ads!!!!) or play a board game with the kids. Orrr, go outside to a dark place and look at the sky. There's a million things to do that don't involve being in everybody's face constantly.

    Also, FB is a feedlot. What happens at a feedlot? The sick get weeded out and the rest get slaughtered.

    Be warned...
    • Re:Ignorance (Score:5, Informative)

      by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Friday March 25, 2016 @04:32PM (#51778347)

      Aerobic exercise is good for depression.

      • Yup. Now, try to get someone with serious depression onto an aerobic exercise program. There's several things that are good for depression that being depressed makes much more difficult.

    • Depends on the depression, I guess. The therapy working best for mine is sertraline + bupropion in varied amounts.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    When you base your entire self-esteem upon the likes/dislikes of near-random strangers you may or may not know, sure, you're bound to have issues.

  • Lack of hobbies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pak9rabid ( 1011935 ) on Friday March 25, 2016 @04:22PM (#51778281)
    I'd be willing to bet that the correlation here is due to these people not having many, if any, hobbies, so they spend a lot of their days browsing social media and not getting out a whole lot. This, combined with the likelihood of seeing their friends on social media going out and doing fun and interesting things probably compounds the problem.
    • Re:Lack of hobbies (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 25, 2016 @06:36PM (#51779063)

      I'm willing to bet you've never been depressed and are just making random guesses. You're got it backwards. I've been so depressed I've attempted suicide twice (yeah, I failed at life and failed at death). When you're deeply depressed, nothing feels good. There is no such thing as happiness, at least none that lasts more than a single moment. Everything, everything takes far more effort to do and everything is pointless. Hobbies take too much work, too much effort, and you get no enjoyment out of them. Worse, you may remembering enjoying it but continuing those action no longer brings that enjoyment or excitement. If you used to have hobbies you won't continue them because they're all pointless extra work with no benefits.

      Turning to social media makes you feel like you're doing something without having to spend any energy actually doing something. You can pretend you're being social (and why has society deemed that's the thing to be? Other cultures prefer quiet self-reflection rather than gossiping about nothing), catching up with people, making connections, etc... as you get further behind in whatever it was you actually need to be doing. Now you've got even more stuff that you've failed to do so you get more and more depressed. Maybe you're hoping one of your 'friends' will notice and help you out, but you don't have the willpower to ask directly and most people will say something insulting like "why don't you smile more" or "go have fun"*. When you're incapable of feeling any enjoyment you can't "go have fun" no matter what you try to do.

      So yes, depressed people don't have hobbies. But they're not depressed because they don't have hobbies, they don't have hobbies because they're depressed. The world is better off without you, so where and why are you going to find and spend the energy to build something when you're just going to fuck it up anyway? At least on social media you could potentially help someone else. I wasted my time reading Facebook and trying to help people on r/depression and the suicide watch reddit forms instead of helping myself.

      *Technically you do need to do those things, but simply stating them is fucking insulting as hell and most people don't tell you the how. Why aren't I smiling? Because I have nothing to smile about you asshole. I don't have some perfect happy little life like you do. Why should I have to put on a show for you just so you can pretend the world is a wonderful place full of happy people? Instead of telling someone to enjoy something, take them out to a park or a zoo, someplace outside during a sunny day. Don't ask them to go, plan the entire trip yourself then tell them you want them along and they're going and don't take any insults personally. Take them along for the ride and don't force them to make any decisions ("I've never eaten at XYZ, how about we eat there"? instead of "Where do you want to eat?"). If you just told someone to 'man up' you better have done the same.

      • by Latent Heat ( 558884 ) on Friday March 25, 2016 @08:26PM (#51779717)

        Thanks for speaking up and telling us what depression is really like.

        There are times when I tell myself "I feel so depressed!" but it is nothing like what you experience. There are many things I feel unhappy about, many things I am anxious about, but when my primary-care doctor asks me if I am depressed, I say, well no, there are projects at work as well as things at home that I enjoy doing and look forward to very much, so I don't think that I am depressed.

        Thanks again for telling us what depression is really like and offering ideas of how we can help friends or family in that condition.

    • Hobbies aren't necessarily better, particularly if they don't involve human interaction.

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      Internet is a hobby too. :P

  • by Anonymous Coward

    One day it dawned on me that I was checking facebook once an hour for no real reason, and I couldn't remember the last time it had made me happy. Delete. Haven't missed it.

  • I propose that what is in fact being observed here is that young adults who are suffering from depression are more likely to turn to social media as an escape or in an attempt to self-medicate.

    • cmon guys you aren't even trying here! from the fucking summary:

      "One strong possibility is that people who are already having depressive symptoms start to use social media more, perhaps because they do not feel the energy to drive to engage in as many direct social relationships," said Dr. Brian Primack

      • Yes, but every other sentence in the summary vaguely (for varying values of vagueness) implies that the social media use is causing the depression.
  • I think it's great that people are out studying these things quantitatively.

    Of course, no-one is surprised, because the "Endless Cycle of Depression" was pointed out as soon as social media started, but it's always better to have quantitative data.

  • See? Told you so! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kheldan ( 1460303 ) on Friday March 25, 2016 @04:33PM (#51778353) Journal
    So-called 'social media' is no substitute for actual interaction, preferably face-to-face, and is just enabling socially avoidant people from getting over their awkwardness and anxiety of social situations. Also, your ten-thousand 'friends' on Facebook? They are not your friends. Do yourself a favor and get some real, living, breathing, live-in-person friends that you actually connect with on a personal level.

    Be sure to read my sigline before commenting, you'll save you and me both time and energy better spent doing something else.
    • by supremebob ( 574732 ) <themejunky@@@geocities...com> on Friday March 25, 2016 @04:54PM (#51778449) Journal

      It also doesn't help that everyone seems to post an idealized Brady Bunch version of their family on Facebook. The pictures of the kids are always clean and happy, and the adults are always promotions and shiny new cars. When the reader's lives can't live up to these unrealistic expectations, it just makes their depression worse.

    • So-called 'social media' is no substitute for actual interaction, preferably face-to-face, and is just enabling socially avoidant people from getting over their awkwardness and anxiety of social situations. Also, your ten-thousand 'friends' on Facebook? They are not your friends. Do yourself a favor and get some real, living, breathing, live-in-person friends that you actually connect with on a personal level.

      Because all it takes to get over social anxiety is to go out and make friends? That shows just how clueless you are as to the causes and therapy for these issues.

      Be sure to read my sigline before commenting, you'll save you and me both time and energy better spent doing something else.

      And you would be better off without that "fuck you" attitude if you expect anyone to take you seriously.

      • Did you know I have terrible allergies? They're so bad it's easier to list the things I'm NOT allergic to: Bird feathers and animal dander. I'm allergic to everything else. So rather than stay inside all the time, running air filters in every room, I get allergy shots every week. Most people's maintenance dose is every 2-4 weeks, but I need to get them every week so I can be outside as much as I want to be, and still be able to breathe and not feel like I'm on the edge of anaphylaxis like I used to feel.

        Be
      • by Livius ( 318358 )

        Because all it takes to get over social anxiety is to go out and make friends?

        No, that's the goal, not the strategy.

        And no-one is claiming that it's easy.

    • by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Friday March 25, 2016 @05:20PM (#51778581)

      So-called 'social media' is no substitute for actual interaction, preferably face-to-face, and is just enabling socially avoidant people from getting over their awkwardness and anxiety of social situations.

      ^^^^THIS.

      "Social" media seems to be creating a generation of emotionally inept and insecure people who simply do not know how to interact with others except on the most shallow of levels. Most millennials seem to hate talking on the phone and the reason they often give is that it's "too immediate and too personal". They want to avoid human-to-human interaction and send a tweet instead. Anything to create some emotional distance. No wonder their relationships are all fucked up and mostly short-lived and shallow.

      It should really be called "anti-social" media or maybe "contra-social" media, because it's anything but social as far as I can tell.

      • Or maybe it's because they were told that if they went outside then they would get kidnapped or something else bad would happen to them. Hell, kids can't even walk to school today because parents are worried that some sexual predator will get them. Or course now it's some Muslim or terrorist threat added in too. God forbid if they are allowed out to play on their own or head to the playground by themselves. No wonder they stick to the computer or game system as that's all they are allowed.

        • Yeah no kidding. They're not even allowed in most places to ride their bikes to school anymore, the schools will specifically not allow it. And they wonder why there's a growing childhood obesity problem: anti-physical exercise culture.

          I'm all against the 'anti-bullying' in theory (I was very much subjected to it as a kid myself), but on the other hand bullies (both kid and adult!) are a fact of life, and not learning how to deal with them as a kid means you're less likely to know how to deal with them as
      • by Livius ( 318358 )

        Calling it "anti-social" is unhelpful. Social media *is* social, just social at a shallow and dysfunctional level. Calling it anti-social is simply incorrect and it gives people an excuse to stop listening.

        • Calling it "anti-social" is unhelpful.

          It may be unhelpful, but it sure seems accurate.

          -

          Social media *is* social, just social at a shallow and dysfunctional level.

          I hear what you're saying (mostly a terminology issue) but there's nothing truly "social" about having 500 Facebook friends, none of whom you've ever met or talked to on the phone or shared a beer with. They're not your friends in any meaningful way. They could be script-bots for all you know.

          Social media is training people to be non-social and, in some cases, genuinely dysfunctional at a basic human-to-human level. Tindr is a great example, where people are

  • FB and other SM outlets want you at home on FB/SM. Not turning off your device and getting out of the the house. If that takes making you depressed, well...

  • by JWSmythe ( 446288 ) <[jwsmythe] [at] [jwsmythe.com]> on Friday March 25, 2016 @04:39PM (#51778395) Homepage Journal

    In other news, people who frequently use the Internet see how stupid most other people are.

    Representatives from the National Institute of Health (NIH), United States Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) all recommend avoiding interactions with stupid people.

    Most importantly, avoid places both real and online, where they may congregate. Specifically mentioned as such dangerously stupid locations are Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine and LinkedIn.

    "While you may think that you can help guide some stupid people away from their stupidity, it will only hurt you. Many very intelligent people have tried, driving them to believe this planet is occupied by absolute morons. There are other studies being performed to determine if we have passed the point of idiocracy."

    • Most importantly, avoid places both real and online, where they may congregate. Specifically mentioned as such dangerously stupid locations are Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine and LinkedIn.

      And Peeple. Don't forget Peeple. Especially stay away from Peeple if you want to avoid really dangerously stupid people.

  • by sims 2 ( 994794 ) on Friday March 25, 2016 @05:14PM (#51778549)

    Does /. count as social media?

  • Not surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Friday March 25, 2016 @05:15PM (#51778555)

    All of the oversharing of the faux 'my-life-is-super-awesome" lifestyles portrayed would be enough to depress anyone, and add to that the sheer volume of brain-numbing bullshit ("press 'Like' to get this child a new kidney!") and it's no wonder that many people's mental processes become clogged with Facebook sludge.

    I noticed this effect years ago when I realized that many of the Facebook addicts I knew were constantly being "one upped" by the constant stream of useless crap and downright false garbage that they tuned in to read on a minute-by-minute basis. Facebook didn't make them feel better, it made them feel worse- lonely, boring, and mundane. They couldn't brag hard enough to make themselves feel good.

    I called this effect "Facebook Psychosis", and now it seems I was on to something.

    If everyone you know is constantly bragging about how AWESOME and FANTASTIC their life is and they have pictures to "prove" it, who wouldn't be discouraged by the "ordinary" life that you, a mere mortal, seems to lead?

    But it's not Facebook's fault per se, any more than it's the bottle of Tequila's fault when someone gets drunk and then crashes their car. It's a contributing cause, but the drunk driver is the one who fucked up.

  • by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Friday March 25, 2016 @05:20PM (#51778575)
    ...those who check daily to see if anybody has "liked" them on dating websites are 100 times more likely to be depressed!
  • People who engage in a lot of social media use may feel they are not living up to the idealized portraits of life that other people tend to present in their profiles

    I noticed this both in the real world and in the social media world very early on. I noticed how the perception of the profile, the sort of larger than life appeal profiles had on people. It sort of created this hunger, this drive for people to become almost morbidly obsessed by the endless detritus of their online lives. And all those posts, updates, etc that don't reflect reality. The online profile and its affect on people is an interesting thing to behold.

  • One thing I've noticed from recently adding to Facebook several people I went to high school with 40 years ago: all the hot chick in the class now look used up and spit out, kind of like bag ladies, while all the plain girls that couldn't get a date in high school to save their lives still look the same, like they haven't really aged in 40 years. Meanwhile, me and all my male friends are now bald and creepy looking. If only I'd known then how well preserved they would be later, I would have gone for the unp
    • by slew ( 2918 )

      ... all the hot chick in the class now look used up and spit out, kind of like bag ladies, while all the plain girls that couldn't get a date in high school to save their lives still look the same, like they haven't really aged in 40 years.

      The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long. -- Laozi

  • by retroworks ( 652802 ) on Friday March 25, 2016 @05:28PM (#51778631) Homepage Journal
    http://www.collegehumor.com/po... [collegehumor.com]

    History of World War 2, if it had been recorded by Facebook

  • I only check anti-social media sites, like Slashdot.
  • Heavy Social Media Users

    I'm not fat! I'm just big-boned. And I hardly ever use social media anyways.

  • LSE prof Sonia Livingstone, who runs the Parenting.Digital [parenting.digital] blog as part of her research in this area, sprayed some sense on this story: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/parenti... [lse.ac.uk]

    wg

  • What if the issue is that social networkers see a wider variety of people, and in the process see a clearer picture of just how messed up the world truly has become?

    That picture is kinda depressing, if things really are stacked against ordinary people.

  • Or maybe, the researchers operationalized 'depression' as 'not really doing anything' which would seem like a prerequisite for spending a lot of time using social media. Put differently: I'm lazy and prefer to sit around checking Reddit - ad when I filled out a mental health questionnaire it told me I was depressed. Which I'm not.

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