Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

What's social media depression -- and might I have it?

Social Media Overload

Think you might have the social media blues?

First, consider why you use social media and how it makes you feel. Do you check Facebook to procrastinate or keep tabs on other people you no longer see in person? Do you feel left out when you follow someone on Twitter and she doesn't follow you back?

These are a few examples of how social media can alter your mood. It's likely that social media can also play a role in people living with depression.

It's also true that self-esteem, pre-existing depressive thoughts and social anxiety are tied into the equation [sources: Wilson et al.]. Hiding your emotions and attempting to make yourself look happy when you're not may make you feel worse, as well [source: Jordan et al.].

Like most things in life, it's a good idea to approach social media in moderation. The effects of obsessively checking social media accounts aren't well studied, but research shows that the more time a person spends doing this, the more likely he will experience anxiety and emotional loneliness [source: Hardie and Tee]. So far, it's believed that people's addiction to social media sites is influenced by their personality traits -- a fact suggesting that psychology may play a larger role than social media Web sites on their own.

To avoid what some refer to as social media depression, experts suggest resisting the urge to compare your life with those of other people in your social networks. Also, remember that online communication is very different from face-to-face interactions; online, body language and face-time can't be used to prevent miscommunication. There's nothing wrong with using social media to stay in touch, but consider talking over the phone or meeting in person if you're not satisfied with your online relationships with others.

If social media is taking a toll on your mental health, don't be afraid to talk to someone about it or contact a trained professional for advice.

Browse more resources about social media and mental blues on the next page.