Social networking can make you depressed

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Social networking can make you depressed


Ms. Hwang, a 29-year-old office worker, decided recently to cut back on the time she spends on Facebook.

The social networking site was depressing her, Hwang says.

“My Facebook friends upload photos they took on their overseas trips or their wedding anniversaries,” says Hwang.

The barrage of other people’s happiness was just too much. “I felt like I hit a wall that I just can’t climb over,” she says.

Hwang admits she recently visited a psychologist and told him she felt she hadn’t achieved much compared to what her friends showed off online.

“I felt like I had none of what my friends bragged about: all those purses they got from their boyfriends, nice restaurants they eat at, hotels and all that.”

An increasing number of people in their 20s and 30s say they feel a sense of depression and isolation after spending time on social networking sites - a fundamental irony considering that the primary reason they log on is to feel connected.

The phenomenon has led to the term “Caffeine Syndrome,” referring to the addictive quality of keeping up with associates via SNS sites.

According to the Kim Hyun Chul Mental Health Medical Clinic in Daegu, about half of its patients in their teens and 20s seek counseling because of depression or related symptoms caused by SNS activities.

“The patients we have seen recently who suffer from insomnia, overeating and bipolar disorder are found to have significantly increased the amount of time on SNS sites,” said the clinic’s founder, psychiatrist Kim Hyun-chul.

Some data proves Kim’s point. In a study conducted by the University of Missouri of 216 students in 2012, it was discovered that the more time they spent on SNS sites, the more likely they were to experience depression or feelings of low self-esteem.

A person’s situation will dictate reactions to various things on social media. For example, a picture posted of coworkers enjoying a night out drinking would seem harmless to many people - but could cause depression in someone who is looking for a job.

The emotional discomfort is often caused by looking at only one facet of the lives of your online friends, psychologists say. And people tend to post photos that make their lives appear attractive. “While I’m aware that those photos only show a distorted side of life,” says Mr. Ha, 29, who is looking for a job, “I keep logging back to check them and end up feeling overwhelmed.”

“People check their SNS accounts because of their desire to get recognized for what they have done and achieved,” says Ha Ji-hyun, a professor of neuropsychiatry at Konkuk University. “But often times, they end up feeling overshadowed by others. The younger the SNS users are, the more likely they are to get depressed.”

Dr. Kim says the best way to end the emotional stress is to unplug oneself.

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