Facebook Addiction Disorder linked to increased depression risk

Long-term social media use may be linked to an increased risk of mental illness, a major new study has revealed.

The research, published in peer-reviewed journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, looks at the relationship between common mental health symptoms, such as low mood, anxiety and stress, and Facebook Addiction Disorder (FAD).

FAD is commonly described as an individual spending an “inordinate” amount of time on the social media platform, commonly leading to distractions at school, work, or in social circles.

The study, which used a sample of 531 students in Germany and 909 adults in the US, was able to demonstrate a “close positive association” between daily stress, depression symptoms and the disorder.

In fact, the research found that many of those suffering from depressive symptoms used Facebook as a coping strategy to “escape from stress” and to find temporary relief and social support. However, this often results in individuals reinforcing negative feelings.

“Earlier research indicated that individuals who experience a high level of daily stress use Facebook to escape from their offline problems, to find relief, and to receive social support,” said the study.

“The more positive experiences they have on the social platform, the higher is the probability that they will engage in further Facebook use. This, however, may enhance their risk of developing of FAD.”

Commenting on the findings, the researchers suggested that interventions for depressed individuals should include “alternative strategies to cope with daily stressors” other than Facebook.

They added that increasing samples sizes to include higher geographic variance is important to understanding FAD across the world.

According to the latest statistics, almost one in five people in the UK aged 16 and over report symptoms of anxiety or depression. Around three-quarters of adults also reported feeling “so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope”.

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