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Is Facebook behind Mental Disorders?

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Rabat – According to a study of Facebook profiles, Facebook users unconsciously reveal signs of their mental problems through their dark updates.

Mental health experts associate the dark postings on Facebook with feelings of despair, helplessness, and above all depression

So strong is the effect that Facebook has on today’s youth that it is now common practice that experts and educated parents give this advice: “Face your problems, don’t Facebook them.”

Thirty-percent of the 200 students covered by a study at the University of Washington and the University of Wisconsin-Madison reported feelings of worthlessness, insomnia, sleeping too much and lack of concentration.

Depression, the study finds, is particularly common among college students simply because they spend a countless number of hours on social media.

Through Facebookers’ status updates, health experts can identify the nature of mental problems that young users suffer from.

Dr. Megan A. Moreno, a principal investigator in the Facebook study, explained, “You can identify adolescents and young adults on Facebook who are showing signs of being at risk, who would benefit from a clinical visit for screening.”

For instance, “then ill go kill myself, with these pills, this knife, this life has already done half the job,” was the last Facebook update of 15-year-old Amanda Cummings before she committed suicide on December 17.

As many Facebook users are trying to alienate themselves from reality via the virtual world, they are usually tempted to post alarming statuses. In this manner, they succeeded in bringing many commentators who, too, find themselves in the news.

“When I pour out my sadness online, some readers responded only with the Facebook ‘like’ symbol: a thumbs up. You feel the same way?’ said Ms. Miller, puzzled. Or you like that I’m sad? You’re sadistic?” Daylina Miller, a recent graduate of the University of South Florida, said in an interview.

Given the fact that reality is sometimes unbearable to face, the youth of today turn to the virtual world where they can say what they cannot say face to face. Also, many youth find solace in expressing themselves behind the screen more openly than reality. Here, the Internet may serve as a schizophrenic test for those who prefer escapism to facing reality, as well as for those who are obsessed with nurturing their egos on this social network.

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