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Is Facebook Making Us Depressed?

Facebook and other social media have done a lot to bring the world closer together. We know when friends and even far-off acquaintances have life milestones, like a birth or a marriage. We also know more mundane things like what they had for breakfast and what their daughter wore to her first dance recital.

Stay on the sunny side

The problem comes when we see only the sunny, positive images and moments and none of the bad, depressing, the boring. We see the vacations, not cubicles. We see anniversary dinners, not mundane arguments. We are human, so of course we compare. And then, according to a study, we suffer for it.

The study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology reveals a connection between depressive symptoms and time spent looking at Facebook for both genders. To many of us, this may not come as a huge surprise.

The "highlight reel"

“It doesn’t mean Facebook causes depression, but that depressed feelings and lots of time on Facebook and comparing oneself to others tend to go hand in hand,” said Mai-Ly Steers, the University of Houston researcher who led the study.

As Mai-Ly states in a University of Houston press release, it’s important, if you are going to spend time on Facebook, to remember that what your friends are posting are essentially “highlight reels.” “Most of our Facebook friends tend to post about the good things that occur in their lives, while leaving out the bad … this may lead us to think their lives are better than they actually are and, conversely, make us feel worse about our own lives.”

Dance like nobody's watching

So keep things in perspective. No one’s daily life is filled with camera-ready smiles and impromptu dinner parties; Facebook just makes it feel that way sometimes. One solution? Turn off the computer, get out there and have some fun.

Emily Wise Miller is the web editor at Live Happy.

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