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Do You Suffer From The Phenomenon Of Facebook Depression?

Do You Suffer From The Phenomenon Of Facebook Depression?

It might seem at first glance that, given the advance in communication technology, you would be happier in the modern world – even if you were a bit socially awkward and spent a lot of time by yourself at home, you could still reach out to a huge number of people. Friends, family and even strangers who share your interests are never far away when you have the convenience afforded by a social network such as Facebook.

Why do some people still feel unloved, sad, lonely or depressed, when they have such a seemingly useful tool at their disposal? More importantly, are you one of those people whose mood is significantly worsened as a direct result of Facebook?

There are definitely a number of tell-tale signs that a certain activity may be affecting your mood to a significant degree, and using Facebook can be bringing you down or at least making things worse when you are already feeling blue. I will provide you with objective information on the matter, citing studies and scientific opinion, as well as give a more personal account based on what I and others around me have experienced ourselves.

Is Facebook depression even a real thing?

It’s important to understand that the mere act of posting something on your wall or commenting on your friends’ pictures will not instantly make you depressed, nor will you necessarily develop an addiction to Facebook even if you use it on a regular basis. The whole hype about the Facebook depression phenomenon was based on a study done by Joanne Davila, PhD on depression in adolescent girls, which was linked to anxiety related to romantic experiences. Facebook or social media in general, was never the focus of the study and the connection between social media and potential worsening of symptoms were pure speculation, as Dr. Davila herself has clarified.

However, although there is no scientific proof of a direct correlation between social media and depression in healthy individuals, we can safely say Facebook does have a potential to negatively impact self-esteem, mental-health and emotional well-being as some newer studies suggest. Here are some common issues associated with regular Facebook use – if you have come across one or more of these in your own life, you might be suffering from Facebook depression.

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You don’t get support you need through online interaction

Coach Consoling Dejected Football Player

    We often feel stressed out or tired, it’s only natural. When it comes to feeling anxious and depressed, there can be a number of different factors involved: problems at work, self-image issues, fatigue, relationship problems, arguments with friends and family, low self-esteem, etc. The old cliché of “just talk to someone about it” actually works, particularly if you have friends or family members you are close with and whose opinions you trust. There are indications that sharing your problems online doesn’t work in the same way that confiding in a group of friends in person does. When it comes to opening up on Facebook there are several drawbacks:

    • You risk exposing yourself to ridicule and hurtful comments if you post on your wall
    • You have limited space to express yourself
    • Sarcasm is often impossible to identify in written form
    • You are reminded of how happy other people are by being bombarded with party pictures, internet memes and positive statuses

    Knowing that the same people that posted a supportive comment on your status are commenting on pictures from last night’s party and posting pictures of their dog on their wall at the same time, kind of undermines their attempts to ensure that they know how you feel and that they are there for you. On the other hand one of the many “friends” you have may be tempted to leave a funny comment about first world problems and others straight up criticize you for “moping” or “trying to be a philosopher” and cluttering up their wall with silly status updates.

    Needless to say, this isn’t good for your self-confidence and emotional health. If you feel the need to be comforted and end up looking for support online, there is a good chance that you may be left feeling worse than before. In such cases it’s best to leave the computer and get a cup of coffee with someone you trust, write down your feelings on a piece of paper or let off steam through exercise.

    It’s easy to envy other people and fear you are missing out in life

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    Envying others

      Sometimes, when I came home from work on Friday I was too tired to go anywhere with friends, other times I just couldn’t organize a fun night out because all my friends were busy and ended up spending a good part of the weekend at home by myself. I didn’t feel depressed or anything, I just found other things that brought me joy – e.g. video games, movies, YouTube videos, hitting the gym, reading books and checking Facebook. As soon as I logged on I was drowning in pictures of excited people drinking, laughing, making fools of themselves or chilling on a beach.

      Feelings of disappointment and envy would wash over me as I realized these people were all having fun with others while I was alone. Some of them were splashing around in the water somewhere far away, while I hardly managed to make a few trips to the pool the entire summer. I went from feeling slightly bored, yet fairly satisfied, to feeling alone and mad at those that dared to have fun.

      A recent study suggests that passively following people on Facebook can cause increased feelings of envy and make you unsatisfied with your own life, something some of my friends and I were already too familiar with. It seems that in such situations it may be best to avoid social networks altogether and find constructive ways of channeling your energy and having fun. Dancing, yoga, martial arts, cooking and similar classes are a great way to develop new friendships, have fun and develop useful skills.

      It can promote jealousy in romantic relationships

      Jealous boyfriend
         

        Facebook allows you access to a lot of private information about a person. There are privacy settings, of course, but healthy relationships are built on trust, so you allow your partner to look through your profile. Some give partners full access to Facebook accounts. It’s easy for you to start feeling jealous after seeing pictures of your significant other partying with people you don’t know anything about. Another thing you quickly realize is people go through a lot of relationships in life, and if they were in a more serious relationship this means tons of pictures of them and their exes having fun and kissing.

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        Some can’t handle what essentially equates to socially acceptable voyeurism very well. One study suggests this can create a vicious cycle in which seeing pictures of your partner can be misconstrued leads to additional digging around Facebook, which leads to other discoveries and so on. If you already have a tendency to get a bit too jealous for no real reason, then Facebook stalking can make things worse and have a negative impact on your relationship. To avoid this, try and be frank with your partner – cultivate a healthy relationship based on effective communication and trust, and understand everyone has a past. We all have a few skeletons in our closet that we may not be ready to talk about.

        You can start basing your self-worth on the number of friends, interactions and likes

        Like me on Facebook

          I’ve had friends become noticeably irritated because they had no notifications after being away from the computer for a whole day. You can start viewing yourself as the sum of all your friends, believing social status depends on the number of comments, likes and other interactions between you and your virtual friends. It was found that people who consumed a greater level of content without engaging in direct communication tended to be much lonelier. Focusing on trivial things like putting up content, liking and commenting instead of communicating with others can make you feel distanced from society.

          You are open to cyber bullying

          Cyber bully

            I’ve already mentioned sarcastic and rude comments as a negative part of opening yourself up to a huge number of people, only a few of which are actually close to you, but sometimes things escalate far past the point of someone being rude or inconsiderate. Cyber bullying is extremely dangerous for a number of reasons:

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            • It takes almost no effort on the part of the bully
            • You can be targeted by people who are hundreds of miles away
            • You can’t escape it by staying at home
            • The attacks hit you when you are at your most vulnerable

            Imagine you are sitting alone in your room at night. As the nagging voice of self-doubt starts creeping in, you log onto Facebook in an effort to keep your thoughts from wearing of into some of the darker corners of your mind. However, instead of whimsical pictures of cats, pop culture references and friends you can chat with, what you find is a borderline sociopath actively pursuing you, attacking you – purposefully trying to inflict great emotional harm. These cases can end very badly, so if you are experiencing cyber bullying you should take steps to end it.

            Unfriending a person can be enough in minor cases, but you might need to report abusive behavior to Facebook and have the person’s account shut down. If he or she continues the bullying from fake accounts or the bullying becomes worse, then deleting your account and contacting the authorities is the recommended course of action. By distancing yourself from social media for a while you can avoid a lot of unpleasant situations, however if the confrontation spills out into the real world then you should speak to the police and a lawyer.

            Final thoughts

            The media likes to blow up certain things to comic proportions and often misrepresents real problems by approaching a topic with the subtlety and levelheadedness of a hungry pit-bull trying to get to a piece of stake left out on the kitchen counter. However, there seems to be something to this Facebook depression phenomenon, as shown by the numerous studies, although I wouldn’t go so far as to put the blame solely on Facebook, as there are often a whole lot of social and psychological factors at play.

            If you are one of the millions of casual Facebook users whose mood isn’t significantly affected by online social life then good for you, but if you see any of the signs that social media may be causing you to feel lonely, sad, depressed, angry, jealous, envious or anxious, then you should consider giving Facebook a break and working on some of the underlying problems, even if that means seeking professional help.

            More by this author

            Ivan Dimitrijevic

            Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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            Last Updated on April 23, 2019

            13 Ways Happy People Think and Feel Differently

            13 Ways Happy People Think and Feel Differently

            Let me begin by being 100% frank with you – everyone is capable of happiness.

            Happiness is first a choice but it also takes persistence to maintain. Happiness is our birth right and my mission is to help as many people as I can live their happiest life.

            My mission is to spread the message that everyone deserves happiness.

            To live a happy life; however, you must do the work, gain the necessary knowledge, and increase your awareness.

            You must fully embody this state and begin to think and feel happiness on every level of your being.

            Often times, excuses present themselves and our mind gives us the reasons why we can’t be happy:

            “I am too busy right now to focus on happiness”

            “I will be happy when I finish school, when I have the money, when I am in the right relationship, when I have kids, when my children are older….”

            “I would have had a happy life if this traumatic event had never happened”

            “I don’t deserve happiness”

            EVERYONE deserves happiness. The reason that you are here right now is because you have a purpose and you are on the earth to enjoy your journey.

            Think BIGGER than your excuses. Push FARTHER than your complaints.

            Don’t be pulled away from greatness. Get uncomfortable. At least these are what happy and successful people do on a daily basis.

            This article highlights the top 13 tips and tricks of how happy people think and feel.

            If you would like to begin embodying this life-changing state, then… Here are the 13 ways Happy People Think and Feel Differently:

            1. Happy People Put Happiness First

            Happy people have made the decision that their end goal is happiness.

            Every situation, event, bad day ultimately ends with happiness.

            To them, happiness is equivalent to sleep and water – it is a necessity to their life. To live an unhappy life is to have never lived at all.

            The happy person asks,

            “What would be the point of living if every day and moment were filled with negativity?”

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            “Why would I deplete my energy on negativity when I expend less to be positive?”

            They make happy-based decisions which means in EVERY MOMENT they choose happiness.

            If their circumstances can’t change then they instead change their perspective, they look for the silver lining in the negative.

            Happy people don’t let negativity steal their moments away – a positive mindset always prevails.

            If you ask a happy person how their day was, they will always answer your question with a highlight or a lesson learned.

            2. Happy People Embrace Pain

            I know what you are thinking –

            “No one is ALWAYS happy”

            or …

            “Even happy people get in bad moods”

            and …

            These statements are absolutely accurate.

            Happy people aren’t always happy and they DO get into bad moods. They get overwhelmed, they feel defeated, and their feelings get hurt.

            Happy people aren’t invincible and they feel pain just like everyone else. The only difference between happy people and people who let negativity run their lives is that…

            Happy people quickly acknowledge their pain and they make a decision to find a way to transform their pain into something greater. They also use these 13 simple ways to shake off the sadness.

            Happy people admit the negativity they feel and they do what it takes to get back into their natural state: happiness.

            When your end goal is happiness, then you will find a way to achieve it no matter how much strength you have to muster.

            3. Happy People Have a Happy Self-Image

            We all have an image in our minds that we subconsciously live up to.

            The reason that change is so hard is because our subconscious mind is programmed to live by how we define ourselves.

            How are you currently defining yourself?

            For happy people, they see themselves with a smile, positive outlook, and/or a bounce in their step. When an event or situation arises that brings in a negative emotion, they quickly change their state to resemble their natural self-image.

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            When happy people are in a bad mood, it feels unusual to them because feeling negative isn’t aligned with how they see themselves.

            When they feel upset, they acknowledge the negativity and look for a solution to bring their emotions to the level of how they perceive themselves.

            Look at how you define yourself today – your mind and body are always trying to live up to the definition it is taught to believe.

            Your body’s job is to keep you in a “normal” state because this is where it feels most comfortable.

            If your self-image is happy, then your mind and body will naturally be brought back to where it feels at home. Your actions will be a clue to how you define yourself.

            4. Happy People Have a Strong Support System

            The happiest people know that it takes a village and they lean on others for support.

            Happy people feel comfortable reaching out for help when they feel that their resistances are overpowering them. They quickly sense their negativity and they tell somebody.

            Happy people ask for assistance when they can’t figure out a problem. Seeking help takes strength and it never gets in the way of their self-worth. Happy people appreciate the wisdom that their support system provides.

            They have strong connections with the people who are close to them. They never trudge through tough times alone because jeopardizing their happiness for too long would be detrimental to their well-being.

            5. Happy People Safeguard Their Minds from Negative Triggers

            Warding off negativity is almost impossible when we live in a society that lives by what went wrong and feeds off of what could go wrong. News travels instantaneously so it would be unrealistic to shut this out of your life completely.

            However, one strategy that happy people use to safeguard their minds is regulating their environment.

            We have a lot of control on how we allow our environments to affect us. We can control our social media feed, the television shows and movies we watch, the books that we read, the people that we spend our time with, and the places that we hang out.

            If happiness is your end goal, then take a good look at what is bringing you down. What triggers your unhappiness? See if there is anything in your environment that can be changed……

            What we listen to, read, and who we hang out with influence our mind, what we think about, what we worry about, our reactions, and behaviors.

            Happy people know what triggers a feeling of negativity and it feels out of alignment for them so they do what it takes to avoid it.

            They might regulate their social media news feed to reflect the information that brings them positive energy. They might regulate the people that they spend their time with. It is important to hang out with like-minded people.

            What are you triggers? How can you avoid the negativity in your environment?

            These are ways that happy people regulate their environment and safeguard their minds.

            6. Happy People Know When to Say “No”

            Happy people know when to sit one out and say “no.” They do this to protect their happiness and well-being.

            Life gets overwhelming – a lot of people need our attention and the to do list can seem never ending.

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            Happy people give themselves permission to take the day off and they feel comfortable with saying “no” when their stress levels begin to climb. They understand that those around them aren’t benefiting from someone who is frazzled, overwhelmed, and tired.

            A happy person identifies their negative emotion and then they quickly treat it to bring themselves back to their “normal” state, so that they can be at their best for not only themselves but for those around them, too.

            A simple “no” can ultimately mean many more “yes’s” in the future because happiness has a long battery life. You can take a look at Leo Babauta’s article The Gentle Art of Saying No and learn to say no.

            7. Happy People Are Good Evaluators

            Happy people can quickly sense when something is off with themselves or others. They are very intuitive to happiness levels. When someone isn’t quite right, they are the first ones to notice.

            Being able to evaluate happiness means that you can identify when negativity is lingering around for too long.

            We all have bad days; however, the happy person evaluates often and quickly intervenes.

            In other words, happy people frequently evaluate their state and immediately change when their pessimism is overshadowing their joy.

            8. Happy People Bring Other People Up

            What goes on inside of us is mirrored into our physical world.

            What we think about literally consumes our life and is displayed in our work, relationships, and attitude.

            Happy people naturally feel good inside and about themselves so they treat others the way that they treat themselves. It never feels forced to give a compliment or to help out a stranger.

            When we are truly happy with ourselves, everyone around us has a better experience. Happy people are kind to themselves and because of this, it feels natural to them to want to make others’ happy, too.

            9. Happy People Go After Their Dreams

            Happy people are always following the joyful path. They make happy-based decisions and because of this, they always end up where they want to be.

            It’s absolutely impossible to be happy by following an undesirable path, which is quite opposite for unhappy people.

            Most people journey through life on a path they think they are “supposed” to be own. Warning signs (negativity) are often ignored because they truly believe that these feelings are a normal part of life.

            Negativity is NOT normal.

            The happiest people investigate the negativity in their life and quickly analyze the results. This process allows them to get back on the joyful path which ends in a desirable outcome.

            Follow your happiness and your dreams will come true (If that isn’t motivation then I don’t know what is!)

            In addition to happiness, here are 14 amazing things that happen when you live your passion.

            10. Happy People Never Sweat the Small Stuff

            The only expectation that the happy person has is that they remain in a joyful state.

            They rarely have expectations for the events and people in their lives because they know that this is a sure way to get let down.

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            The happiest people take life as it comes – you could say that they roll with the punches. When you don’t have expectations, thenyoue can just sit back and watch how beautifully life unfolds.

            Happy people understand that bad things are inevitable, they are a part of life – The car will break, the kids will make mistakes, people will be late, and dinner will burn.

            If it’s not anything seriously affecting their lives, then they don’t give their energy to it.

            11. Happy People Rarely Have to Prove That They Are Right

            Happy people remember that it’s more important to live up to what they believe. When you live your life aligned with your belief system, then there is no need to explain or prove yourself to others.

            Differences in opinions are inevitable, but the happiest of people know it’s wasted energy to defend their position.

            It is more effective to simply show people, through actions, how you think, feel, and what you believe.

            Energy is saved, arguments are diminished, and credibility/respect are gained when we live by what we believe.

            12. Happy People Smile (Even When They Don’t Want To)

            Smiling is one of the healthiest things we can do; and happy people use this simple trick quite often.

            It has been proven that smiling has the ability to boost your immune system, decrease stress levels, and can even make you look younger. The benefits of smiling have even been backed up by science.[1]

            Better yet, smiling is contagious. When you engage in a quick smile, you are likely to brighten someone else’s day along with your own. It is no wonder why happy people smile often!

            13. Happy People Live Life in the Present Moment.

            When we are genuinely happy, we are living for the moment.

            Happy people let go of the past, enjoy the present, and look forward to the future. They take the moments for what they are worth – they only invest their energy in what feels right to them.

            Everyone is capable of living a happy-centered life. You deserve a life that you desire – your dream life. All you have to start doing is make happy-based decisions TODAY.

            In every moment, decide on what makes you happy – decide on what gets you excited. Stop doing what you don’t love, don’t listen to the people that you dislike.

            If you are engaging in something that isn’t bringing you joy, then quit doing it. Listen to your heart, stop ignoring the warning signs (negativity) because they are there for a reason.

            I have observed, studied, and interviewed some of the happiest and most successful people along with some of the most miserable and self-loathing.

            It starts with one decision – happiness.

            The happiest, most successful people choose happiness with EACH and EVERY decision. And you can start doing this today.

            Featured photo credit: Autumn Goodman via unsplash.com

            Reference

            [1] Harvard Business Review: The Science Behind the Smile

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