Research Finds Social Media Use Linked to Depression

The advent of social media has had a massive impact with respect to how we communicate nowadays. It has given us the ability to connect with people all over the world instantaneously. Despite the positives associated with the global development of social media, there is a dark side to its use.

A growing body of research shows that social media use and personality structures can have an impact on developing depression. This study, co-authored by Renae Merrill, a doctoral student in the Public Policy Program at the University of Arkansas, found linear associations of depression across all personality traits, providing answers to critical research questions left unaddressed by prior studies.

According to the study, more agreeable individuals were 49 percent less likely to have depression than those who were lower on the agreeableness scale. In addition, those with high neuroticism levels that used social media for 300 minutes daily were twice as likely to have depression as those with lower neuroticism levels. The study discovered that social media usage was strongly linked to depression for each personality trait.

The study was performed by Primack’s team at the University of Pittsburgh’s 2018 data and carried out on 1,000 participants between the ages of 18 and 30. The Patient Health Questionnaire was used to assess depression in this study. In doing so, participants were asked how much time they spent on popular social media platforms. The Big Five Inventory was used to measure personality and determine openness, conscientiousness, agreeableness, extraversion, and neuroticism. 

According to the researchers, problematic social comparison can contribute to negative feelings about oneself and others, which may explain how the risk of depression rises with increased social media usage. Engaging in primarily harmful material might also elevate these emotions. Furthermore, spending more time on social media lowers the likelihood of engaging in activities outside the home.

These findings are significant for creating health interventions and prevention efforts, as depression is globally the leading cause of disability and mortality.

According to Merrill, the study’s findings are significant, especially now that technology is becoming increasingly ubiquitous. She suggests that staying connected with people online might result in more communication errors, leading to relationship problems and contributing to the risk of mental health issues.

She explained that people have an instinctive psychological need for social connection. Merill says that by becoming more conscious of our emotions and relationships with others in various life situations, we may enhance our social media experiences. By reaching shared meaning and understanding through improved communication and care for others and ourselves, awareness helps to enhance the quality of connection. “Despite our differences, we have the potential to develop a culture of empathy and kindness,” she notes.

TruLaw is currently investigating cases related to this study and others concerning the negative impact of social media use on mental health. We are committed to fighting for the rights of those harmed by these powerful platforms and will continue to investigate the latest research on their effects. If you or someone you care about has experienced mental health issues due to social media use, including Facebook or Instagram, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit. Please contact us for an instant case evaluation or to learn more about the potential lawsuits we are pursuing.