Patterns in the way we use social networks like Facebook and Twitter could prove a powerful tool in identifying mental illness, according to new research.
Dr Peggy Kern from the University of Melbourne and Elizabeth Seabrook and Dr Nikki Rickard from Monash University reviewed 70 studies that looked at the relationship between social networking and depression, anxiety and wellbeing.
The research showed that social networks can contribute to users’ mental health by connecting them with others and can be a unique source of support for people with social anxieties.
However, people who often compared themselves to others, posted negative thoughts, or were addicted to social media were at greater risk of suffering from depression and anxiety.
Dr Kern said that unique behavioural patterns on social media might be able to identify and predict the presence of depression and social anxiety in the user.
“With continued research it may be a powerful tool for the early identification of mental health risk,” she said.
Dr Kern said that although social media provides a popular way to connect with others, for those with depression or anxiety it could make such conditions worse.
“By understanding links between social media and mental health, we can make better choices about how to best use social media, as well as use social media to promote good mental health.”
Read more about the relationship between social media use and mental health here. Story credit: University of Melbourne newsroom.
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