Social Media Use (SMU) has been associated with increased depression in young adults. Several recent studies have correlated SMU linearly with two times greater odds of depression. Compared with those in the lowest quartile, individuals in the highest quartile of SMU site visits per week and those with a higher media frequency scores had significantly higher risk of depression. The associations between depression and SMU were found to have strong, linear, dose–response trends.

In 2014, a nationally representative sample of 1,730 US adults (ages 19 to 32) completed an online survey. Cluster analysis was used to identify patterns of SMU. Depression-and-anxiety were measured using an appropriate scoring tool, the PROMIS scale. Multivariable analysis assessed associations between clusters of use and depression-and-anxiety. Study participants who were characterized as “Wired” or “Connected” had three times greater odds of elevated depression and anxiety symptoms, compared to those considered to be “Diffuse Dabblers,” “Concentrated Dabblers,” and “Unplugged.” SMU pattern characterization among a large population of young adults suggests these two patterns of high SMU were associated significantly with risk for depression and anxiety.

One study showed that mothers who post on-line a higher proportion of photos of themselves interacting with their babies fared better during the postpartum period. There was an association between higher levels of maternal depressive symptoms and a lower proportion of posts with baby smiling photos.

Another study showed that postpartum depression (PPD) in young mothers increased with social isolation and lowered availability to social capital on Facebook, (capital being defined as “the actual or potential resources linked to a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance or recognition,” e.g. a Facebook support group).

Isolated young adults do not necessarily experience loneliness. However, those who are lonely may be depressed, partly because the same genes influence loneliness and depression. For young mothers, either baseline isolation or loneliness can significantly predict the increased risk of depressive symptoms. In addition, both feelings of maternal competence and maternal body image can influence risk for depression. U.S. mothers who want more emotional support from their partner and their own mother have been found to have low postnatal mood.

Depression is a common disorder in women of childbearing age. Many women experience depressive symptoms during the postpartum period. The ‘baby blues‘ is extremely common, affecting 30-75% of new mothers. This kind of postpartum mood change is self-limited and requires no specific treatment other than education and support. PPD, which occurs in 10-15% of births, has the potential for significant impact on both the health of the mother and baby, and requires treatment.

Studies have shown that four themes play a role in perinatal depression among adolescents – stigma and perceptions of being judged on social media; social and professional support; knowledge and information; and barriers to assistance and support. Teenage mothers also experience lack of informal support networks and unavailability of relevant and appropriate information targeted at teenage mothers.

A study published in 2018 among undergraduates at the University of Pennsylvania showed that the group randomly assigned to either limit Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat use to 10 minutes, per platform, per day, showed significant reductions in loneliness and depression over three weeks compared to the control group.  The control group used social media as usual for three weeks. This study strongly suggested that limiting social media use to approximately 30 minutes per day may lead to significant improvement in well-being.

In conclusion, the excessive use of social media (SMU) correlates with depression-and-anxiety, and with PPD.  An excessive use of social media is worse for new mothers than is limited use of social media. New mothers’ ability to use social capital, such as Facebook support groups, can provide some help and reassurance.

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