Too Much Facebook Can Worsen Depression
Friday, July 3 2015 Liz Smith
I like Facebook, but, unfortunately, too much Facebook can actually worsen depression. Living with depression can make you feel lonely, and social media can be a useful tool for keeping up your interactions with others, especially when you’re not getting out much. But, there’s a downside too. A worsening of depression can come from too much Facebook.
Worsening Depression Thanks to Facebook “Comparisonitis”
Do you find yourself looking at other people’s status updates, photos and profiles and feeling like your own life never matches up? Do you feel like everyone else is having a better time than you? If so, you may be suffering from a common modern affliction known as “comparisonitis”. And if you have depression, comparing yourself to others' online lives can be dangerous.
Too much social media trawling can skew our perceptions of what other people’s lives are like. Take the snaps people put on of their “perfect vacation,” all laughing children frolicking in the waves and happy families on the beach. It’s important to remember that social media is an edited version of life. Of course they’ll post all the photos and videos of when the kids were being good and the weather was beautiful. There won’t be any of the Naomi Campbell-worthy tantrum the two-year-old threw on the plane or the day it rained for eight hours solid. People will only post what they want others to see and create a social media image that is the best version of their lives. It’s not necessarily reality.
Beware the Overshare with Depression on Facebook
It’s easy to share everything with your online friends these days, from what you had for your dinner to the daily shifting of your moods. I know this is ironic coming from someone who blogs publicly on the Internet about living with depression, but this comes from experience. Just because you can share it in 140 characters or less, it doesn’t mean you should.
As I used to say when I was in youth work to my groups, once it’s online, you don’t control it any more. I recommend not posting if you’re having a really bad day. It might make you feel better initially to get it out there, but it’s better to talk to someone you trust about how you are feeling, or phone a mental health helpline. You don’t need a permanent and public record of your worst days online. If you want to track your moods, you could use a mood diary that’s not accessible to anyone else.
Drama on Facebook Worsens Depression and Drains Your Emotional Energy
As well as being mindful of what we put on Facebook, we also need to set some limits on how much we engage with other people’s online dramas. My filters don’t work as well when I’m struggling with depression, so it’s harder not to rise to bait on social media. We all have those friends and contacts who like to shock, create controversy or overshare, but if you’re feeling fragile yourself, I’d advise not engaging. Hide their feeds if you have to. I recently had to do this with a friend and I felt a bit guilty, but I found the constant barrage of posts stressful. If a friend really needs you, they’ll call you, they won’t tweet you. And if you’re not spending your time engaging with unnecessary contrived drama, then you’ll have the energy to be there for the people who matter.
Image attribution: Ksayer1, used under Creative Commons license.