Social media linked to depression regardless of personality type


A recent study found that all personality types were susceptible to developing depression due to social media use, however, people with certain traits are more at risk.

The findings were published in the Journal of Affective Disorder. They study was conducted by three public health researchers and led by Renae Merrill, a doctoral student in the Public Policy Program at the University of Arkansas, in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Merrill and her colleagues set out to better understand the association between depression, social media, and personality.

The investigation sampled over 1,000 adults in the United States between the ages of 18 and 30 from a previous study on social media done by researchers at University of Pittsburgh. The participants’ level of depression was measured through the Patient Health Questionnaire. Then, to determine the participants’ personalities, researchers used the Big Five Inventory test which assessed openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

Researchers found participants categorized as highly agreeable were 49 percent less likely to become depressed that those who were not agreeable. In addition, participants using more than 300 minutes of social media per day with high neuroticism scores were twice as likely to develop depression than those with low neuroticism. Although the likelihood of depression due to social media varied based on personality traits, the study found a strong association between depression, social media, and each personality trait.

According to the researchers, these results were not entirely surprising. They said social media can cause depression because it encourages negative comparisons between oneself and others, promotes negative content, and takes away from real in-person interactions.

“Findings from this study are important during a time of technology expansion and integration,” Merrill said. “Connecting to people virtually may increase the risk of miscommunication or misperception that leads to relationship difficulties and potential risk for developing mental health problems.”

Researchers said they hope these findings can lead to better interventions for depression as well as methods of prevention.