‘Facebook envy’ associated with symptoms of depression

“Facebook can cause depression in people who compare themselves with others,” The Independent reports. A new study has examined the relationships between Facebook use, feelings of envy, and feelings of depression.

Researchers surveyed more than 700 US university students, aiming to look at the relationships between the extent of Facebook use and feelings of envy and depression.

Importantly, it found the extent of Facebook use in itself was not associated with depression symptoms.

However, increased Facebook use was associated with feelings of “Facebook envy”, such as feeling envious when seeing photos of old friends on luxury holidays.

Increased feelings of envy were then associated with increased symptoms of depression.

The relationship between feelings of envy, Facebook usage, and symptoms of depression is likely to be a complex one, and overall the study does not prove a cause and effect relationship.

The idea that spending increased time looking at the posts of Facebook friends could contribute to feelings of envy, which could in turn lead to feelings of low mood, seems plausible.

But there are likely to be many other unmeasured factors that are also having an influence. These could include personal characteristics, lifestyle and physical and mental health.

If you are prone to envy, Facebook may not be the social network for you. Why not try Twitter, where, as we discussed last month, people often post “angry tweets” unlikely to provoke any feelings of envy.

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