Facebook Use Isn’t a Sign of Depression

Depression and social networking site usage are not necessarily linked

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Some people with depression may spend too much time on Facebook. This does not mean that depression and Facebook are related.

A recent study compared depression surveys to time spent on Facebook in a group of college students. Researchers could not find a link between depressive symptoms and Facebook usage.

"Talk to a therapist if you’re feeling depressed."

A research team from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, led by Dr. Megan Moreno, and Lauren Jelenchick, MPH, investigated depression in relation to the use of Facebook.

For the study, they surveyed 190 students aged 18 or 19 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The researchers were gathering data on Internet usage as well as screening for depression.

The survey was initiated with an online Patient Health Questionnaire-9 depression screening. Then 43 text messages were sent at random times during a seven-day period to assess Internet and social networking site (SNS) usage.

It took the researchers from February 2011 to December 2011 to perform all of the surveys.

The participants spent half of all of their Internet usage time on a SNS, like Facebook. When broken up by time, 53 percent used SNSs for less than 30 minutes at a time, 39 percent between 30 minutes and 2 hours and 8 percent for longer than 2 hours.

The results of the study did not find a link between the use of SNSs and clinical depression.

Jelenchick said, “Our study is the first to present scientific evidence on the suggested link between social media use and risk of depression.”

“The findings have important implications for clinicians who may prematurely alarm parents about social media use and depression risks.”

Dr. Moreno said, “While the amount of time on Facebook is not associated with depression, we encourage parents to be active role models and teachers on safe and balanced media use for their children.”

This study was published in July in the Journal of Adolescent Health. No financial information was given and no conflicts of interest were reported.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 23, 2012
Last Updated:
November 16, 2012