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Facebook can worsen or enhance your mental health

Social network giant Facebook can assist people in recovering from mental health issues but the social networking site should be used strategically and carefully as it can also make symptoms worse, according to a study.

Lead researcher Keelin Howard told the gathering at the British Sociological Association's annual conference in Glasgow that depressive, paranoid and manic symptoms could worsen and even improve while being on Facebook.

Howard conducted the study with 20 people aged 23-68 who had experienced conditions such as bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression and schizophrenia.

Howard said that Facebook could provide a source connection and social support, which is important for recovery. Some participants were positive about Facebook, saying it assisted them recover by making them feel less alone, allowing them to express themselves and be part of an online community.

However, some participants said Facebook worsened their condition. All the participants who experienced psychosis and dealt with paranoia found Facebook particularly problematic when unwell.

The effects of Facebook on severe and enduring mental health conditions had not been studied in depth before, therefore Howard plans further research with a larger sample.