Snapchat Depression

TuftsNow, April 17, 2018, By Nassir Ghaemi

"Five years ago, I wrote a column about how parents could tell the difference between normal teenage mood swings and possible mental illness. I said then that most depression in teenagers was a sign of psychiatric disease. Since then, I’ve come to think that most teen depression now is caused not by biology, but by our culture, specifically by what one organization calls a new “public health crisis of the digital age.”

Twice as many teenagers now have depression as a generation ago. This high rate of depression has no biological explanation. Instead, it appears to be caused by engagement with social media on smartphones.

It’s now clear that there’s a strong association between use of social media and depression in adolescents. The more depressed adolescents are, the more they use social media; the more they use social media, the more depressed they are. Which causes which is unclear, but whatever the cause, it’s a vicious cycle.

There is no other factor that has changed notably in the last decade other than the prevalence of smartphones, digital technology, and social media to explain the extraordinary increase in the frequency of depression among adolescents. Right now about 22 percent of teenagers exhibit multiple symptoms of depression. This increased depression is highest in those with three or more hours per day of digital technology usage—and that data is self-reported, probably not capturing the true rates, which is likely higher.

These numbers are concerning. The lifetime prevalence rate of a full clinical depressive episode in the overall U.S. population is 5 to 10 percent. In adolescents, that number has now doubled in a generation. There is no biological explanation;  instead, a major cultural change should be suspected.'..."


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