Tempted to accept your ex’s Facebook friend request? Don’t.
That’s the advice of experts who have examined the links between depression and social networking in a major review of all existing research on the topic.
Researchers at Lancaster University found that a number of behaviours on social networking sites put people at increased risk of depression, including:
- Accepting former partners as Facebook friends
- Frequently posting negative updates
- Feeling envious by observing others
- Making negative social comparisons
Comparing yourself to others on Facebook was more likely to lead to depression than offline comparisons, the study found.
Lancaster’s David Baker and Dr Guillermo Perez Algorta suggested that was likely to be because it leads to “rumination” or overthinking.
But gender and personality also play a part. Women with high levels of neuroticism were less likely to become depressed while using Facebook.
Meanwhile, men are more likely to engage in social comparisons that lead to depression, the researchers found.
They examined studies from 14 countries with 35,000 participants aged 15 to 88.
But they also found that online activity could improve people’s mental health if it was used as a resource to boost social support.
“Facebook depression” is classified by the American Academy of Pediatrics as a “depression that develops when preteens and teens spend a great deal of time on social media sites, such as Facebook, and then begin to exhibit classic signs of depression”.