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Phoenix Forward

5 signs that Facebook makes you depressed

Is Facebook making you blue?

Do you have the Facebook® blues? Emerging studies indicate that social media may be associated with depression and erosion of self-esteem.

A recent report from Stanford University, for instance, found that heavy Facebook use can contribute to reduced real-world social interaction and may exacerbate depression. In January, Canadian researchers published a study indicating that people with poor self-esteem may find that using Facebook can further lower their self-image and even make them less likable. Here are some tips on how to recognize if it’s time to take a break from Facebook:

1. You feel a need to stay online.

“Any time a habit becomes something you have to do, and you experience anxiety or withdrawal symptoms when you don’t, that’s a sign of addiction,” says Dean Hebert, MAEd, an applied sports psychology coach who also teaches undergraduate psychology for the Phoenix Main Campus of University of Phoenix. “If you feel compelled to be on Facebook all the time and become anxious that you might miss something if you aren’t, then you need to take a break.”

2. You neglect your real-world relationships.

“While Facebook can be a great tool for staying in touch, it should not replace your real-world relationships,” Hebert says. Even the heaviest Facebook users need to unplug during important life moments, such as dinnertime with their family and one-on-one time with significant others. “We need to spend time nurturing those relationships, not neglecting them for the virtual world,” he notes.

3. You’re feeling emotionally sensitive.

As the Canadian study indicated, some personality types may be more prone to depression after using Facebook. People who are very shy or sensitive to the candid remarks of others may be especially vulnerable, according to Hebert. “If you find that every off-the-cuff comment, opposing viewpoint or casual joke shared on Facebook bothers you, that’s a sign to stay off it altogether,” he advises. “Not everyone is made for this kind of communication, and that’s OK. Know yourself.”

4. You’re keeping up with the Joneses.

Many people enjoy their friends’ social media posts about positive life events such as marriages, new babies or expensive vacations, but others come to find this information depressing. “Some people may engage in overly harsh comparisons with their peers who seem to have these perfect lives, which results in lower self-esteem,” Hebert explains. “And sometimes the opposite is true. If you have some particularly negative friends who are always complaining about every little thing on Facebook, that negativity can also spill over into your own life.”

5. You see cyberbullying.

The perceived freedom of social media can lead users to say hurtful things. “Unfortunately, we do see a lot of cyberbullying on Facebook, and not just among young people,” Hebert says. “Some people will say or do things online that they’d never do in person, and that includes bullying. If you have Facebook friends who repeatedly make you feel bad about yourself, then it’s time to unfriend those people or perhaps stop using Facebook entirely.”

 

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