Have 300 Likes on Facebook? Watch Out, Could Mean Depression Down the Line

Admit it.  Seeing 50 likes on our Facebook post thrills us(I'm lucky to see five!).

But a new study has found that, for kids, liking something is a lot less stressful than being liked.  Huh?

According to newswise.com, liking on Facebook is good for teens' stress levels, but not so much being liked.

In fact, teens who have more than 300 Facebook friends have higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, researchers say.

As we all know, Facebook can have positive and negative effects on us, and teens' levels of the stress hormone, say researchers at the University of Montreal and the Institut universitaire de santé mentale de Montréal.  Too many likes hikes the levels of cortisol.  But teens who act in ways that support their Facebook friends – for example, by liking what they posted or sending them words of encouragement – decreased their levels of cortisol.

 Makes sense.  I've always found that it makes me feel good to help others feel the same way.  This is a gentle way of helping, it would seem.

"While other important external factors are also responsible, we estimated that the isolated effect of Facebook on cortisol was around eight percent,” Lupien says. "We were able to show that beyond 300 Facebook friends, adolescents showed higher cortisol levels; we can therefore imagine that those who have 1,000 or 2,000 friends on Facebook may be subjected to even greater stress.”

I'll never have to worry about that!  (Keep in mind that having "friends" pretty much simply means clicking on someone's name, or they, on yours, not exactly being willing to rescue you from a burning house).

 But there is a reason to be concerned.  Other studies have shown that high morning cortisol levels at 13 years increases the risk of suffering from depression at 16 years by 37%. While none of the adolescents suffered from depression at the time of the study, Lupien could not conclude that they were free from an increased risk of developing it.

"We did not observe depression in our participants. However, adolescents who present high stress hormone levels do not become depressed immediately; it can occur later on,” Lupien says. “Some studies have shown that it may take 11 years before the onset of severe depression in children who consistently had high cortisol levels.”


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