Depression in Young People: Articles Review

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Aalbers, George, et al. “Social Media and Depression Symptoms: A Network Perspective.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, vol. 148, no. 8., 2019, pp. 1454-1462.

In this study, authors investigate the relationship between passive social media use (PSMU), such as regularly scrolling news feeds, and depression symptoms. The investigation is based on the quantitative data collected from 127 undergraduate psychology students, primarily females, and application of time-series model to estimate three types of relationships between variables that characterize PSMU and depression syndromes. Overall, authors found that more time spent on PSMU contributes to elevated concentration problems, fatigue, and sense of loneliness as depression characteristics, while some limitations were identified when the symptoms are observed over time. Generally, the study contributes to the current research in investigating the impact of social networks on users’ mental health. However, the results are somewhat inconclusive and could be refined further by considering social networking factors that cause depression.

Keles, Betul, et al. “A Systematic Review: The Influence of Social Media on Depression, Anxiety and Psychological Distress in Adolescents.” International Journal of Adolescents and Youth, vol. 25, no. 1, 2020, pp. 79-93.

In this study, authors conducted a systematic literature review to verify the negative impact of social media on depression, as well as anxiety and distress in younger people. Based on the research of online academic libraries, authors proposed four domains such as time spent, activity, investment, and addiction as those that have the major impact on the mental condition of adolescents. While admitting that the relationship between social media use and mental health is not obvious, the authors found a significant correlation between depression and all four identified domains. Overall, the authors succeeded in synthesizing previous findings and presenting meaningful conclusions for the role of social media in progressive depression. However, in terms of methods used it requires additional data collection through interviews rather than analysis of past studies.

LeMoult, Joelle, and Ian H. Gotlib. “Depression: A Cognitive Perspective.” Clinical Psychology Review, vol. 69, 2019, pp. 51-66.

In this study, the authors provide a scientific perspective on depression from the cognitive science perspective. Specifically, they suggest that depression causes poorly adaptive regulation of emotions, affects individual control over mood and common behavior, and leads to negative representations of attention and memory. Based on theoretical analysis, the authors suggest several important implications for depression progression. The most important are the need of considering the mental imagery biases of past, present, and future events and the need of understanding the role of individual difference factors such as ethnicity or gender. Overall, the study provides a strong basis for understanding depression from a cognitive perspective, while the implications are mostly theoretical and would benefit from further verification using primary data.

McElroy, Eoin, et al. “Networks of Depression and Anxiety Symptoms Across Development.” Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, vol. 57, no. 12, 2018, pp. 964-973.

In this study, the authors attempted to explore the boundaries between depression and anxiety as two interrelated mental constructs that progress developmentally from early childhood to adolescence. Using the network analysis methodology and the data from the study conducted by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the authors found that symptoms of depression and anxiety are highly interconnected. Considerably, the authors provided a counterargument to the past studies stating that depression and anxiety could be differentiated through individual developmental stages. Overall, the study significantly contributes to the field of developmental psychopathology by suggesting to see depression and anxiety as a network of symptoms as people age. However, since one is based on findings of another study, it requires further comparative analysis with other works.

Seabrook, Elizabeth M., et al. “Social Networking Sites, Depression, and Anxiety: A Systematic Review.” JMIR Mental Health, vol. 3, no. 4, 2016, p. e50.

In this study, the positive and negative influence of social networks on depression and anxiety is investigated using qualitative analysis of previous literature. It was found that lower levels of depression are mediated by the friendly atmosphere, the ability to connect with others, and support expressed by network peers. Alternatively, it was confirmed that negative trends in connecting socially lead to higher levels of depression and anxiety. However, these findings appeared to be mixed when factored by frequency of use and number of network connections, which prevent from grouping respondents in cohorts and further comparing them. Therefore, the authors concluded that the findings are mixed and should be refined by an alternative methodology. Overall, the study is essential for the research field, while its findings are common and require methodological improvement and the focus on factoring for more persuasive conclusions.

Exploratory Paper

Depression is one of the mental health disorders progressively observed among the world population. Recently, depression symptoms became more evident for the younger population, resulting in significant academic interests to determine the root cause of the problem. Some of the causes of the potential problem identified are active engagement in social network activities and a sense of virtual life that replaces live communication. Researchers and practitioners in the area of psychology and mental health currently attempt to understand the relationship between social network engagement and depression, while their opinions remain polarized. Similarly, there is no common vision on whether limiting access to social networks or more active counseling from psychologists will decrease manifestations of depression. Hence, based on the recent research it is questioned what factors influence depression development in younger people who actively use social networks, and how the impact could be minimized.

The purpose of the above inquiry is to validate whether the assumption of the negative impact of social networks usage in younger people on depression development is true. Since there is no single opinion on the above, it is important to reflect on previous findings in the literature to differentiate viewpoints and develop a common understanding of the statement validity. Hence, it is considered that both researchers and students will benefit from a retrospective view of the current state of the problem.

In a study titled “Social Networking Sites, Depression, and Anxiety: A Systematic Review” by Elizabeth M. Seabrook and colleagues, authors seek to analyze both positive and negative effects of social networks on how depression and anxiety manifest among social network users. On the one hand, authors explain that social networks could protect from depression and other mental disorders because of enabling social interaction, identity reflection, and emotional expression associated with users’ life experiences (Seabrook et al.). On the other hand, authors suggest that social networks are sources of miscommunication and wrong expectations, leaving to maladaptation and a sense of isolation (Seabrook et al.). By concluding that negative social comparisons and critique in social networks lead to higher depression, while positive interactions and encouragement lead to lower depression, the authors confirm previous assumptions. These findings are important for distinguishing social network factors that increase or decrease manifestations of depression, however, there is some uncertainty in profiling users in terms of frequency of use and overall connectedness. Considerably, the study pushed forward the idea of exploring alternative ideas on factors and their influence on how social interactions contribute to the mental health of users.

The next study titled “Social Media and Depression Symptoms: A Network Perspective” By George Aalbers and colleagues explores a particular concept of passive social media use (PSMU) and its impact on high levels of depression among adolescents. In this context, PSMU refers to the common social network users’ behaviors such as scrolling news feeds or repetitively browsing through already seen posts or visual content. The authors described their findings through three separate types of identified associations. In terms of contemporaneous association, they found that higher PSMU levels lead to increased problems with concentration, fatigue, and a sense of loneliness (Aalbers et al. 6). In terms of temporal association, they concluded that PSMU does not predict depression or stress, while fatigue and loneliness contribute to PSMU addiction (Aalbers et al. 1). Finally, in terms of between-subjects association, authors specified that some of the depression symptoms such as feeling inferior are related to elevated PSMU, while in conjunction with other variables these relationships disappear. Hence, the authors have not provided empirical confirmation on whether PSMU should be seen as one of the reasons for increased depression.

The importance of the study for the investigated problem is explained by the emerging trend of PSMU among adolescents, primarily because of the broad use of smartphones and their scrolling features. Based on the available research, it is unclear if PSMU results as a form of addiction that is based on mutual interest or the sense of being bored that could indirectly lead to depression. Hence, since the results of the study were important but inconclusive, further investigation was made to explore other frameworks that characterize network interaction and the risk of depression development.

Finally, the last study titled “A Systematic Review: The Influence of Social Media on Depression, Anxiety and Psychological Distress in Adolescents” by Betul Keles and colleagues was analyzed. The relationships in social network engagement among adolescents in the study were analyzed based on depression and related mental disorders. To classify social network engagement, the authors introduced the domains of time spent, activity, investment, and addiction as key characteristics of social network users. Using qualitative data extraction approach and analysis, authors found that all four domains are related to mental problems specified above, while admitted that a small sample does not allow making strong conclusions. Nevertheless, results were important to validate findings from the previous two studies, where authors also voiced uncertainty in applying the results of their studies in a practical context because of methodological limitations. For instance, Keles et al. admitted that specific behaviors demonstrated by users, such as active or passive use of the platform, motives to use, and social comparison might have a greater impact on depression (89). Hence, the study supports the overall direction of research to seek more social network factors that cause depression.

Overall, among the three perspectives proposed above, the third perspective appears to be the most reasonable to answer the question of what factors are influential on depression progression. While authors admitted its limitation in the choice of methodology, it uses a wide range of previous studies to classify four specific domains that could be considered as critical factors. Furthermore, it provides further assumptions for secondary factors such as frequency of interaction and individual purpose of social networking activities. Hence, the possible solution to expand the perspective is to classify secondary factors more explicitly and, as fairly mentioned in all three studies, conduct qualitative research through personal interviews and focus groups. Individual responses in a comfortable environment would be helpful to evaluate the real opinion of respondents about the current level of depression and match it to social networking behaviors. However, this process might be time-consuming and will require significant efforts from researchers and psychology practitioners, as well as arranging meetings with potential research participants.

Works Cited

Aalbers, George, et al. “Social Media and Depression Symptoms: A Network Perspective.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, vol. 148, no. 8., 2019, pp. 1454-1462. Web.

Keles, Betul, et al. “A Systematic Review: The Influence of Social Media on Depression, Anxiety and Psychological Distress in Adolescents.” International Journal of Adolescents and Youth, vol. 25, no. 1, 2020, pp. 79-93. Web.

Seabrook, Elizabeth M., et al. “Social Networking Sites, Depression, and Anxiety: A Systematic Review.” JMIR Mental Health, vol. 3, no. 4, 2016, p. e50. Web.

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PsychologyWriting. 2022. "Depression in Young People: Articles Review." September 28, 2022.

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PsychologyWriting. "Depression in Young People: Articles Review." September 28, 2022.