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Recent research has found a relationship between rising depression in young adults and increasing usage of social media. Anthony Robinson, research assistant at the psychology department at Texas State University, explains that sufferers from depression are more likely to compare themselves on social media to people who appear better off than them.
He added that those who post on social media take great care to portray themselves positively, but not necessarily truthfully.
“By making comparisons based on this inflated image that is being created, people can end up feeling inferior to their counterpart”, Robinson said.
The research also showed that depression can be worsened if a sufferer is tagged in an unflattering picture of themselves. They are also less likely to post pictures of themselves with other people and are more careful with what they post so as to avoid the judgement of others.
During the research, people with symptoms of depression exhibited excessive sleeping, feelings of hopelessness or guilt, or loss of pleasure in the things they used to enjoy. Out of the 504 people studied, 16% showed signs of depression. According to the US National Institute of Mental Health (2016), young adults aged 18–25 are most likely to have depression, at a rate of close to 11%.
However, since the research was only observational, it can’t tell if people get depressed because of social media, or if they use it to socialise because they are already lonely most of the time.
Either way, it is evident that every aspect of people’s lives is involved in social media. Every big event has to be shared and commented on; sometimes even the small things are displayed for the world to see. Even the number of celebrities who confess to suffering from depression has risen. Through social media, we face constant exposure, which can open us to all kinds of influences, good and bad. Science has also linked depression and anxiety to higher risks of developing other major health problems.
To overcome this, people need to be very strong minded in order to change the way they think, or to get rid of destructive habits. But even if they aren’t strong enough, there is a lot of help out there for those who choose to seek it. If you know anyone who suffers from depression and wishes to get help, give us a call on 020 7686 6000. Don’t let the condition worsen – seek help.