Baseline social media use is independently associated with the development of depression, according to a study published online Dec. 10 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Brian A. Primack, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, and colleagues evaluated associations between social media use and depression among 990 participants (aged 18 to 30 years), representative of the U.S. population.
The researchers found that 9.6 percent of participants developed depression during six months of follow-up. In an adjusted analysis, there was a significant linear association between baseline social media use and the development of depression for each level of social media use (P < 0.001). Participants in the highest quartile of baseline social media use had significantly increased odds of developing depression (adjusted odds ratio, 2.77; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.38 to 5.56) compared with those in the lowest quartile. At follow-up, there was no association between the presence of baseline depression and increasing social media use (adjusted odds ratio, 1.04; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.78 to 1.38).
“This pattern suggests temporal associations between social media use and depression, an important criterion for causality,” the authors write.