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Instagram Helps Adolescents Combat Depression

On the eve of World Health Day, nothing is more befitting than discussing ways to curb depression. The central theme of this year's World Health Day is depression. According to the latest estimates released by the World Health Organisation, there was a rise of 18% in the global number of depression cases between the year 2005 and 2015.

Instagram Helps Adolescents Combat Depression

On the eve of World Health Day, nothing is more befitting than discussing ways to curb depression. The central theme of this year's World Health Day is depression. According to the latest estimates released by the World Health Organisation, there was a rise of 18% in the global number of depression cases between the year 2005 and 2015.

According to Dr Samir Parikh, Senior Psychiatrist at Fortis Hospital, Depression in children and adolescents can be very different from that observed in adults. A pivotal point to keep in mind is that adolescence is that stage of life, wherein they tend to be rebellious and striving for independence. Therefore, they would prefer not to seek help, and instead might struggle with their emotions themselves. Not being as competent in expressing their emotions verbally, they may become increasingly irritable or angry. They may withdraw from activities and social interaction. There might be deterioration in academic performance, a general appearance of sadness, along with an increase in somatic complaints like headaches and stomach aches. In their efforts to fight their depression, some teenagers may get aggressive, while others may indulge in risk-taking behaviors.

Mental health experts are constantly working upon and looking for ways to help adolescents deal with depression. A new study suggests that using the photo-sharing app Instagram can actually strengthen the closeness of their friendships which in turn may help curb depression.

Researchers Frison set up a large-scale study to investigate the relationships between adolescents' social networking site use and their well-being. The surveys asked students about their use of social networking sites like Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram, and their well-being (depressive symptoms, life satisfaction, loneliness).

The data analysed revealed that using Instagram at one point was related to increased closeness to friends (perception that they are appreciated and loved by their friends) six months later, which in turn was related to lower levels of depression. However, the researchers cautioned that if the use of the photo sharing app fails to stimulate the feeling closeness to friends, it could be harmful in the long run.

"This age group may be particularly at risk for the impact of Instagram, given the increasing popularity of Instagram in adolescence and given the increase of depressive symptoms during this stage of life," said researcher Eline Frison from University of Leuven in Belgium.

"This study offers practitioners greater insight into the outcomes of adolescents' Instagram use," Frison said.

The findings are scheduled to be presented at the 67th annual International Communication Association conference to be held at San Diego, California from May 25-29, 2017.

Inputs from IANS
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