Saturday December 14, 2019

Premature to Say Social Media Use Leads to Depression

Examining the role that these differences play will help clarify the ways in which social media interacts with mental health, with implications for parents, policymakers, and healthcare professionals alike, the study noted

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Multiple apps are displayed on an iPhone in New York. VOA

Use of social media does not necessarily cause depressive symptoms later in adolescents and young adults, according to a recent research.

The study, however, showed that relatively higher depressive symptoms resulted due to more social media use later only among adolescent girls.

The latest study stands in contrast to recent claims that suggests teenagers’ use of social media could lead to depression.

“You have to follow the same people over time in order to draw the conclusion that social media use predicts greater depressive symptoms. By using two large longitudinal samples, we were able to empirically test that assumption,” said lead author Taylor Heffer from the Brock University in Canada.

For the study, the team surveyed 594 adolescents and 1,132 college undergraduates.

The results, published in Clinical Psychological Science, showed that social media use did not predict depressive symptoms later among adolescents or college undergraduates; rather, greater depressive symptoms predicted more social media use over time, but only among adolescent girls.

Depression
Depression is a common mental disorder. Flickr

“This finding contrasts with the idea that people who use a lot of social media become more depressed over time. Instead, adolescent girls who are feeling down may turn to social media to try and make themselves feel better,” said Heffer.

Overall, the research suggests that the fear surrounding social media use and its impact on mental health may be premature.

“When parents read media headlines such as ‘Facebook Depression’, there is an inherent assumption that social media use leads to depression,” added Heffer.

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In addition, different groups of people use social media for different reasons including making social comparisons or while feeling down. While another group of people may use it for more positive reasons, such as keeping in contact with friends, according to the study.

Examining the role that these differences play will help clarify the ways in which social media interacts with mental health, with implications for parents, policymakers, and healthcare professionals alike, the study noted. (IANS)

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Consuming Sugary Treats may Trigger Depression: Study

Shun sugary treats to avoid winter depression this X'mas

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Sugar Depression
You need to avoid eating sweets this season if you do not want to suffer from depression. Pixabay

Like any holiday season, you are once again surrounded by sugar plum pudding, chocolate cakes and sweet treats, but skipping those this time will help you ward off depressive illness especially if you are prone to depression, suggest researchers.

Eating added sugars — common in so many holiday foods — can trigger metabolic, inflammatory and neurobiological processes tied to depressive illness, said the study from a team of clinical psychologists at the University of Kansas published in the journal Medical Hypotheses.

Coupled with dwindling light in wintertime and corresponding changes in sleep patterns, high sugar consumption could result in a “perfect storm” that adversely affects mental health.

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Consuming sweets and sugary items can trigger depression. Lifetime stock

“For many people, reduced sunlight exposure during the winter will throw off circadian rhythms, disrupting healthy sleep and pushing five to 10 per cent of the population into a full-blown episode of clinical depression,” said Stephen Ilardi, associate professor of clinical psychology.

Ilardi, who co-authored the study with Daniel Reis (lead author), Michael Namekata, Erik Wing and Carina Fowler (now of Duke University), said these symptoms of “winter-onset depression” could prompt people to consume more sweets.

“One common characteristic of winter-onset depression is craving sugar,” he said.

Avoidance of added dietary sugar might be especially challenging because sugar offers an initial mood boost, leading some with depressive illness to seek its temporary emotional lift.

When we consume sweets, they act like a drug.

“They have an immediate mood-elevating effect, but in high doses they can also have a paradoxical, pernicious longer-term consequence of making mood worse, reducing well-being, elevating inflammation and causing weight gain,” said Ilardi.

The investigators reached their conclusions by analysing a wide range of research on the physiological and psychological effects of consuming added sugar.

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When we consume sweets, they act like a drug. Pixabay

It might be appropriate to view added sugar, at high enough levels, as physically and psychologically harmful, akin to drinking a little too much liquor.

“Alcohol is basically pure calories, pure energy, non-nutritive and super toxic at high doses. Sugars are very similar. We’re learning when it comes to depression, people who optimise their diet should provide all the nutrients the brain needs and mostly avoid these potential toxins,” Ilardi explained.

The researchers found inflammation is the most important physiological effect of dietary sugar related to mental health and depressive disorder.

“We know that inflammatory hormones can directly push the brain into a state of severe depression. So, an inflamed brain is typically a depressed brain. And added sugars have a pro-inflammatory effect on the body and brain,” said the researchers.

Our bodies host over 10 trillion microbes and many of them know how to hack into the brain.

“Many of those parasitic microbes thrive on added sugars, and they can produce chemicals that push the brain in a state of anxiety and stress and depression. They’re also highly inflammatory,a the team wrote.

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Ilardi recommended a minimally processed diet rich in plant-based foods and Omega-3 fatty acids for optimal psychological benefit.

As for sugar, observe caution not just during the holidays, but year-round. (IANS)