New Study Suggests Link Between Facebook and Depression

by Katie Wiedemann, Reporter

DUBUQUE, Iowa - Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram help us connect both with strangers and friends all over the world. But a new study by the University of Michigan suggests Facebook use can cause a decline in happiness.

During the lunch hour once each week, one group of Dubuque stay at home moms enjoys a cup of coffee and a little adult conversation. There's one topic that always seems to come up.

Lauren Boyd said, "We probably talk about something to do with Facebook at least once when we get together. "

The women say the way they feel about what they see on social media is based on how they feel about themselves.

"I'm just confident in what I do," said Jesse Ochoa. "So now I can be like, 'That was great. I used to do that but yeah now I am a mom and that's my new job.' This is my whole new life. "

Dr. Christine McGrath, a Psychologist at Medical Associates Clinic, says with the addition of social media in our lives, there's a social phenomena called "social comparison."

McGrath said, "Now we are learning the more time you spend on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, the more likely you are to feel depressed "

Stay At Home Mom, Maria Novik said, "Sometimes I get on and I see people who are posting things repeatedly. It's like
it seems like they have all this time. And I'm like why don't I have time to get on here and post things about my child? "

McGrath says some researchers disagree about the link between Facebook and depression. Is it causation, or correlation?

"Are depressed people more likely to use the internet? Or does using the internet more often make you depressed? We don't know the answer yet, " said McGrath.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders does not recognize Social Media Depression as a mental disorder. There's no formal definition or diagnosis. Still McGrath says it's an issue many of her patients struggle with.

"I have recommended to some of my patients who are constantly talking about the problems they have via Facebook, 'why don't you take a break for a week?' And at first they say, 'there's no way I can do that', and you can see panic almost overcome them," she said.

Across town, new mom Ashley Brimeyer admits she spends a lot of time posting on Facebook. But she says some of the online groups she's part of have been her social saving grace, now that she stays home with her son.

Brimeyer said, "being up in the middle of the night breast feeding and stuff. You can check in and see that you are not alone and there are other people who are having the same struggles maybe that you are. "

A virtual community can be both a blessing and a curse.

McGrath recommends, especially for brand new moms, to simply stay off Facebook for awhile. She says the whole point of maternity leave is to recover both physically and emotionally. She says that's hard to do if you're constantly scrolling through your phone when you should be sleeping.
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