Study: Could Social Media Use Increase Depression?

By R. Ryan Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

Social media is often used by many students and can have many benefits, including positive feelings.

A recent study suggests that social media might worsen depressive symptoms.

Who were the study participants?

  • 1,787 adults ages 19 to 32 were surveyed about social media use and depression.
  • About 50 % of the students were female, and 57% of the participants were white.

What was asked in the study?

  • Participants were asked about:
    • Total time per day spent on social media
    • Social media visits per week
    • And a global frequency score based on the Pew Internet Research Questionnaire.
  • Depressive symptoms were measured by using the PROMIS scale.

How was social media defined in the study?

  • Social media sites included use of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Vine, Snapchat, and Reddit.

What were the study results?

  • The study found that social media use was associated with higher scores of depression, even after adjusting for other variables.
  • Depressive scores increased with more time spent on social media, ranging from 30-135 minutes per day.
  • Depressive scores increased with more sites visited per week, ranging from 6-17 visits per week.

What are some caveats?

  • This study used a survey which tells us about snapshot in time but does not tell us about cause and effect.
  • Standard measure of social media use has not been established.
  • Other studies have found mixed results (2,3,4,5) and further study is needed.
  • Investigators asked about depressive symptoms but not Major depression.
  • Various social media sites are working on ways to reach at risk students that are using social media (1,6,7).
  • While this study looked at risks, there may be benefits to using social media as well.

How do you feel after using social media? Are you feeling depressed? Are you spending a lot of time on social media? Are you falling behind in other aspects of your life?

What are some strategies that help with depression?

  • Don’t isolate from family, friends, or colleagues and get involved on campus
  • Consider counseling at OSU-CCS.
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet of protein/veggies/fruit/whole grains, Omega 3’s
  • Talk to your doctor about various treatment options such light therapy, medication, etc.
  • A well balanced exercise program (check with your doctor first)

What are some of OSU’s campus resources for depression?

Are there any other helpful resources?

  • DBSA (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance)
  • NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness)
  • NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health)

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.


1. Lin LY, et al.  Association Between Social Media use and Depression Among U.S. Young Adults. Depression And Anxiety 00:1–9 (2016).

2.  JelenchickLA, EickhoffJC, Moreno MA.“Facebook depression?” Social networking site use and depression in older adolescents. J Adolesc Heal 2013;52(1):128–130.

3.  Kross E, Verduyn P, Demiralp E, et al. Facebook use predicts declines in subjective well-being in young adults. PLoS One 2013;8(8):e69841.

4. Moreno MA. Depression and Internet use among older adolescents: an experience sampling approach. Psychology2012;3:743– 748.

5. Sagioglou C, Greitemeyer T. Facebook’s emotional consequences: Why Facebook causes a decrease in mood and why people still use it. Comput Human Behav 2014;35:359–363.

6. Tumblr. “Everything Okay?” 2014. Available at:

7.  Facebook. Updates in Facebook Safety. 2015. Available at: