19/11/2010 05:15 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Does Using Facebook Cause Psychological Stress?

Social networking websites such as Facebook may be good for keeping in touch with old friends and for boosting your popularity. But are they good for your health?

Facebook is a source of psychological stress Facebook and other social networking sites could stress you out. Photo: Flickr, Ed Yourdon

If motivation is something you need - for giving up smoking, for instance - then encouraging comments from your Facebook friends could be just what the doctor ordered. On the other hand, if you've just broken up with someone, seeing their photos online could completely stress you out.

At least that's what happened to one 18-year-old Italian, who had such a shock when he accessed his ex's profile on Facebook, it triggered an asthma attack. When he stopped logging on, however, the attacks stopped.

Unbelievably the episode prompted no less than five doctors to write to the medical journal The Lancet to document the broken-hearted lad's case. Facebook and other social networks, warn the experts, could be a new cause of psychological stress, especially among young people who are asthmatic.

The link between stress and asthma is already well known. But is it fair to blame Facebook for being a new source of stress? After all, if you're not exactly in a positive state of mind, almost anything could stress you out - an argument with someone at work, for instance, or even watching the news.

Perhaps the solution is to not torture yourself by checking up on your ex via their Facebook page and seeing how happy they look in new photos they've posted. Well, it's just an idea.

Have you ever kept tabs on an ex via Facebook? Did it really make you feel any better?

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