Many of us know that falling into a Facebook rabbit hole — spending an evening stalking that seemingly perfect woman from barre class until we fall asleep at our laptops, for example — only serves to make us feel like crap. Now, a new study has finally confirmed that comparing ourselves to others on social media is a bad idea, as it can lead to feelings of depression.
Researchers from Lancaster University examined studies from 14 countries, with 35,000 participants over the age of 15, to determine the link between Facebook and depression. They found that frequent Facebook users often compare themselves with others, which can lead to overthinking and rumination. That, in turn, can lead to feelings of depression — which is most common in neurotic or female Facebook users.
The study also found that feeling jealous of your Facebook friends or making the ill-fated decision to add an ex to your social network can increase the risk of depression. Furthermore, making negative social comparisons and frequently posting negative status updates were also found to be predictors of depression.
But one good thing did come out of the study: The researchers noted that, despite its link with depression, Facebook can also be a tool to help people with mental illness, since it can enhance social support and serve as a mental-health resource.