If you see a mental health professional about depression or anxiety, there’s a chance they could ask about your Facebook habits, but concern about social media website usage is not necessarily justified.
An increasing amount of research is being conducted on social media sites and their potential impact on mental health.
Two new studies came out suggesting Facebook and Twitter could increase anxiety and low self-esteem/self-consciousness, but that Facebook is not associated with depression.
A study from the University of Wisconsin revealed that there is no association between the length of time using Facebook and an increase in depression, according to a news release.
A different study spearheaded by the organization Anxiety UK and conducted by the University of Salford “found that over half of respondents who regularly use social networking sites saw their behaviour change negatively,” according to an article on Anxiety UK’s website.
This behavior change included having difficulties relaxing and disconnecting, comparing oneself to others in a negative manner and being “confrontational online.”
“The study also found that 45 per cent of people who are not able to access their social networks or email feel worried or uncomfortable as a result,” according to the article.
These results suggest that sites like Twitter and Facebook could lead to anxiety or worsen symptoms for people who already have anxiety if they don’t have control over their technology use.
Although one study refutes previous claims of a “Facebook depression,” some mental health professionals like Stephanie Moulton Sarkis, a licensed mental health counselor, still think social media sites could be harmful, as the other study suggested.
“I think when social media replaces personal interaction, it can lead to depression and anxiety,” Sarkis said.
“It may also be that if a person is depressed or anxious, Facebook is a way to have social contact without pressure. I think people can experience depression and anxiety from overuse of social media, and if depression and anxiety already exist, social media can increase isolation.”