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Social media use and depression linked in large study

Spending more time on social media raises your chances of depression, according to new research from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Pennsylvania.…

Spending more time on social media raises your chances of depression, according to new research from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Pennsylvania.
Previous studies have come up with mixed results about the link between social media use and mental health. One in 2015 focused on individual social media sites but concluded they could cause anxiety and depression, which could lead to poor sleep quality, intensifying the problem.
Another this year suggested link between social media use and sleep disturbances.
But the latest, published in the journal ‘Depression and Anxiety,’ used questionnaires from 1,787 adults in the US aged 19-32, in order to ascertain their social media use – Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine and LinkedIn.
Participants used social media for 61 minutes per day, and they visited social media accounts 30 times per week. More than a quarter of them had “high” indicators of depression, and there were significant associations between social media use and depression – whether the social media use was classed in terms of total time spent or frequency of visits.
In detail, the researchers found that the participants who checked social media most frequently during the week had 2.7 times the likelihood of depression, compared with those who checked least frequently.
Additionally, the participants who spent the most total time on social media had 1.7 times the risk of depression, compared with those who spent less time on social media sites.
Commenting on their findings, senior author Dr. Brian Primack, says: “Because social media has become such an integrated component of human interaction, it is important for clinicians interacting with young adults to recognise the balance to be struck in encouraging potential positive use, while redirecting from problematic use.”
He and his team say their findings could guide public health interventions to tackle depression, which is on track to become the leading cause of disability by 2030 in high-income countries.
 

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