New Research Links Social Media Usage to Depression

December 29, 2016

University of Pittsburgh researchers recently published an article highlighting the link between social media and depression.

[Image Source: Pixabay]

During the holiday season, it’s common for social media fundies to post reels of photos highlighting their trip abroad for all their ‘friends’ to absorb. This affirmation triggers a release of dopamine. The natural ‘Reward-Molecule’ comes when the one who posted receives approval such as a ‘like’ or a comment, according to a study done by San Francisco-based media buying firm, RadiumOne.

However, not much research exists about the viewer of these posts. For those on the receiving end, comparison to a glamorous post via social media can lead to jealousy. When done more frequently, it can lead to regression and signs of depression. And given that millions of people use social media every day, the problem can be widespread.

The Center for Media and Research, Technology and Health (CRMTH) at UPitt suggested a linear connection between social media platforms and depression. They also noted a direct link to anxiety. Extended time spent on social media led to a continuation of feelings of inadequacy even after logging off. The CRMTH research can be found in the December issue of Computers in Human Behavior.

The team surveyed 1,787 young adults from the U.S. Participant ages varied between 19 to 32 years old. The researchers assessed the mindset of each participant using the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS). Patient-Reported problems are emotional responses such as distress, anxiety, depression. They also include physical responses like pain and fatigue. These emotional and physical reactions affect the social functioning of patients as well as their quality of life. This is usually brought about as a byproduct of a chronic disease.

However, general lab tests such as x-ray and tissue sampling can’t distinguish between emotional and physiological discrepancies. Therefore, PROMIS developed a psychometrically-robust Computer Adaptive Testing (CAT) system to analyze a series of questions and categorize the outcome.

Results

The team observed that participants who used 7 to 11 forms of social media as opposed to 0 to 2 had substantially higher odds of having increasing levels of depression and anxiety. This proves a linear response to the number of platforms used as well as the time spent browsing social media. The results are regardless of if one tries to maintain an online appearance or is simply scrolling through her newsfeed.

“Understanding the way people are using multiple social media platforms and their experiences within those platforms – as well as the specific type of depression and anxiety that social media users experience – are critical next steps,” said co-author and psychiatrist César G. Escobar-Viera, a postdoctoral research associate at Pitt’s Health Policy Institute and at CRMTH.

The publication results are so unequivocal that it suggests that clinicians should consider asking patients about their multiple platform use and to counsel them accordingly.

SEE ALSO: New Algorithm Can Tell if You’re Depressed from Your Instagram Feed

[Featured Image Source: Pixabay]

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