3 Ways Social Media Triggers DepressionDepression
It is undeniable that we can observe both the rise of people suffering from depression and the development and mass use of social media in our time. Is it possible that Social Media may trigger depression? In this article, we will talk about 3 ways social media triggers depression.
Since its inception, for better or for worse, social media (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, twitter, youtube, etc.) has become a massive part of the general population’s life (unless you reside in a cave where internet connection is nonexistent). It serves a lot of purposes such as marketing, sharing/trading of information, a tool for learning, for interacting with people from other places all over the world at your comfort (as long as you have the means that is), and possibly more. It allows us to “communicate” with the world (you know what I mean). Sounds awesome, right? However, despite all the usefulness, convenience and awesomeness that it offers, like all the things in this world, Social Media has its share of controversies; one of it is whether or not it causes or linked to “depression,” and that’s what we are going to talk about here. The relationship between “Social Media” and “Depression.”
Before we begin exploring the link between social media and depression, let us first learn the basics of “depression.”
Feeling down or sad from time to time is normal, as long as it is appropriate in the situation, you are in (e.g., feeling sad when you lose someone you love or failing to achieve something you deem necessary). Some though may even say “oh, I’m really sad, I think I’m depressed” so casually, maybe even without knowing what depression means. However, one should not confuse the “ah, I’m depressed” with actually having a depression, because depression is not just about being really sad or feeling down. For one to be diagnosed with depression, one must experience at least one of the first two symptoms and another five or more on the list below for at least two weeks.
Click here to see related article about How to tell if your friend is depressed.
DSM-5 Clinical Depression Diagnostic criteria:
- Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day.
- Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all activities most of the day, nearly every day.
- Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite, nearly every day.
- A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement. (note: must be observable by others, not just personal/subjective feeling)
- Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
- Feeling of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
- Recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal ideations without a plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan to commit suicide.
Note: These symptoms must be causing the individual a profound impairment in his/her daily life, and must not be related to substance abuse or another medical condition. (Jessica Shelton, 2019).
Here Are The 3 Ways Social Media Triggers Depression
There may be several ways of how Social Media contributes to depression, but, we will only present these three. Social Comparison Theory; EMF (Electromagnetic Field)/Radiation; and Poor Sleep Quality.
Social Comparison Theory
This theory states that “individuals determine their own social and personal worth based on how they stack up against others they perceive as somehow faring better or worse” (Psychology Today, 2019). There are at least two ways on how people will react on their social comparison, it’s either you get motivated by it, or you get devastated by it, or perhaps the stoic person you are, you just wouldn’t care. But since we are talking about depression, it only fits that we’ll only look into the devastating part, right?
Negative Social Comparison and Depression
A study conducted by Feinstein and his colleague in 2013 found out that facebook social comparison (negative comparison) contributes to rumination which “refers to repetitively focusing on one’s distress, including its potential causes and consequences” (Nolen-Hoeksema, Wisco, & Lyubomirsky, 2008), which is associated to depressive symptoms and is consistent with a meta-analysis done by Aldao, Nolen-Hoeksema, & Schweizer in 2010 which states that rumination is consistently linked with adverse mental health outcomes, including depression. This study is also coherent with a study conducted by Locatelli and Colleagues in 2012 which concluded that rumination mediates the association of negative status updates on Facebook and depressive symptoms (Feinstein et al., 2013).
Though the relationship is indirect, these studies showed that somehow, in some way, negative social comparison on social media contributes to depression or depressive symptoms.
EMF (Electromagnetic Field)
The EMF(Electromagnetic Field) “are invisible areas of energy, often referred to as radiation, that are associated with the use of electrical power and various forms of natural and man-made lightning” (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, 2018). This radiation is emitted by WiFi and electronic mobile devices or gadgets like laptops, smartphones, etc. (Debaun, 2017, 2019).
We can’t separate social media use from gadgets, and gadgets nowadays are almost literally everywhere, right? So, I guess it is safe to say that we are all drowning in this so-called radiation. We’re screwed, aren’t we?
EMF (Electromagnetic Field) and Depression
A study by Martin L. Pall in 2015 stated that one of the top 4 commonly reported neuropsychiatric symptoms following microwave EMF exposure is depression/depressive symptoms (Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy, 2016). An Iranian study also supports this finding, which noted that in the five groups of electricians that were exposed to extremely low EMFs, the group with the highest exposure had the highest probability of experiencing depression, psychosis, obsessive-compulsive behavior, hostility and anxiousness (Debaun, 2017, 2019).
These findings are indeed horrible, but really though, we can always minimize our exposures to such radiations by reducing the usage time of our gadgets, yeah? It’s not like we’re going to die if we move away from those things every now and then, it’s just a matter of discipline, and of course, a certain amount of awareness about this matter is needed.
Poor Quality of Sleep
Sleep quality is an indicator of how well you sleep at night (National Sleep Foundation). If it takes more than half an hour for you to sleep or you wake up more than once per night, then you might have a poor quality of sleep. It may not sound as bad, but, having a poor quality of sleep over time might hurt you in ways you wouldn’t expect. One of the many is depression or depressive symptoms. You don’t want that for yourself, do you?
Poor Quality of Sleep and Depression
Disordered sleep is heavily associated with Depression (Goldstein&Walker, 2014). Agargun et al., in 1997 also found out that those with worse reports of subjective sleep quality, sleep latency, sleep duration, and habitual sleep efficiency are suicidal depressive patients (O’Leary, Bylsma, and Rottenberg, 2016). O’Leary, Bylsma, and Rottenberg in their study in 2016 also found out in their research that more inadequate sleep impairs one’s ER or emotion regulation which then leads to depression. A systematic review by João Dinis and Miguel Bragança in 2018 also noted that poor sleep quality predicts Depression or depressive symptoms (Sleep Sci, 2018).
So, if you think like you are having depressive symptoms and you know that your sleeping habit is garbage, then, you might try cleaning that up, that might help you in a lot of ways.
Whether or not Social media (Social comparison, EMF/Radiation, and Poor Sleep Quality) contributes to depression or depressive symptoms, we can’t say for sure. All we can do is to present studies or pieces of literature that could provide information about a given topic that might help you one way or another. Self-awareness is key.