Facebook Depression: Much Ado About Something?

Facebook Depression

“Facebook Depression? Well, of course it’s real, Bill. Duh! We’re talking one billion users. Somebody’s bound to get bummed-out.”

Clunk! Well, I guess you got me there. Ah, but if Facebook – any social networking site, for that matter – and depression are pals, is it a strong enough relationship to assign a brand?

Hey, no doubt about it, the potential impact of using social networking sites upon one’s psyche can’t be ignored. Take a gander at these estimated monthly visitors numbers for the top five…

  • Facebook: 750 million
  • Twitter: 250 million
  • LinkedIn: 110 million
  • MySpace: 70 million
  • Google+: 65 million

Staggering, don’t you think?

Sure seems as though people are looking (needing?) to interact with others – even if it’s out here in cyberspace. And it makes perfect sense that potential liabilities such as Facebook Depression may drop-in at the party.

But let’s keep in mind these questions: Does using Facebook generate Facebook Depression? Or is it grounded in the maybe-fact that many who lean toward the depressive hop-onto Facebook more frequently? Hmmm…

Well, what say we dive-in and see what we can learn. Oh, given the depth of the subject matter, and volume of information, we’re going to have to handle our biz in likely three parts over the next handful of days. Okay?

Facebook Depression: Addiction Too?

As a clinician, if a client comes to me with an addiction issue you can be sure I’m going to focus upon depression (anxiety, mania, and stressors, as well) during the assessment process. Now, that isn’t to say all addicted individuals are depressed. However, in so many cases “where there’s smoke there’s fire.”

So, as we consider Facebook Depression, let’s first address Facebook addiction.

Researchers at the University of Bergen (Norway), led by psychologist Dr. Cecilie Schou Andreassen, have come up with some first-time, and very valuable, information regarding Facebook addiction.

Check-out what Dr. Andreassen has to say…

The use of Facebook has increased rapidly. We are dealing with a subdivision of Internet addiction connected to social media.

It (Facebook addiction) occurs more regularly among younger than older users. We have also found that people who are anxious and socially insecure use Facebook more than those with lower scores on those traits, probably because those who are anxious find it easier to communicate via social media than face-to-face.

Our research also indicates that women are more at risk of developing Facebook addiction, probably due to the social nature of Facebook.

Interesting, don’t you think?

As part of their research, the team came up with a Facebook Addiction Scale. And the scoring is based upon the following criteria…

  • You spend a lot of time thinking about Facebook or plan use of Facebook.
  • You feel an urge to use Facebook more and more.
  • You use Facebook in order to forget about personal problems.
  • You have tried to cut down on the use of Facebook without success.
  • You become restless or troubled if you are prohibited from using Facebook.
  • You use Facebook so much that it has had a negative impact on your job/studies.

Respondents are asked to rate each item as “Very rarely,” “Rarely,” “Sometimes,” “Often,” or “Very often.” Is Facebook addiction alive and kicking? Well, the research team says it is if one rates at least four of the items as “Often” or “Very often.”

Again, the presence of an addiction doesn’t always equate to accompanying depression. However, I’m not scratching my head if they’re co-occurring. And that certainly applies to Facebook Depression and addiction.

By the way, ever wonder if you’re into what I call “screen buzzes” to the point where a dependence/addiction dynamic exists? I posted a three-part series on just that a little over two years ago. The reading’s interesting – here are the links…

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Well, let’s tie a bow on Part 1 of this particular series. Much more to come as next we’ll consider the potential existence of Facebook Depression in children and adolescents.

Be sure to stay tuned!!!

Looking for more Chipur articles on the psychology of depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder? Just click here.

  • Britt Marie October 20, 2012, 11:04 pm

    I suffer from depression and anxiety. I find I check into facebook every day. I do feel more down if no one is on that I know or if I have no messages. I do not think that facebook in and of itself causes the depression. I believe my depression is, however, effected by it. I think this would occur in any setting where I felt alone, not just on facebook.

    • chipur October 21, 2012, 10:04 am

      Hi Britt Marie!!!

      First of all, thank you for visiting Chipur and participating. Sharing is such a huge part of learning and healing.

      It makes sense that visiting Facebook would be part of the daily routine for someone enduring depression and anxiety. ‘Course, when “nobody’s home” or there’s no communication, it can sure be a downer. I’m with you – I don’t believe Facebook – or any other social networking site – is directly responsible for generating depression/anxiety. For my money it’s always about how our thoughts and beliefs spin activating events.

      Thanks again for checking-in…


  • Patricia Miller October 28, 2012, 9:26 pm

    I do think that meaningful connections are what make a difference. Many of the connections on Facebook can be very “top note” only, and those may have limited impact unless the communication is negative. There was an interesting online survey last week that asked respondants if they would rather do away with cell phones, nuclear bombs or social media. Social media was #1, nuclear bombs #2 and cell phones was #3…. I just found that interesting.

    • chipur October 29, 2012, 9:20 am

      …and I do think I super appreciate your ongoing visits and participation, Patricia. Interesting survey results – glad you shared them. Hmmm – more good riddance re social media v. nuclear bombs. Talk about threat potential perception. Again, thank you for being a loyal Chipur reader and participant…


  • Charlie's Mom October 30, 2012, 1:06 pm

    In the last year, I have de-activated and re-activated my Facebook account dozens of times. Every time I re-activated, I would read something, or see something, that would upset me and it just hung on. Two people rejected my Friend Request in one day and that really upset me. My therapist tells me not to go on FB anymore at all. I don’t and have no interest in it anymore.

    • chipur October 30, 2012, 1:31 pm

      Hi Charlie’s Mom!
      Sounds like you came up with the perfect solution for you – stay away from Facebook. ‘Course, not everyone has as difficult a time with it as you. But this isn’t about “everyone,” it’s about you. I’m thinking you made a great decision. Thank you for your visit and participation!