The current study wasn’t designed to prove whether or how using social media might help stave off depression, or whether people with depression or pain might use social media less than others. Another limitation is that the survey data didn’t include details about types of social media sites used or how participants used them.
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Explore This IssueNovember 2018
“It’s very well known that social support is helpful for depression and physical symptoms. It’s a growing area of interest in research and clinical care,” said Dr. William Pirl of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, who wasn’t involved in the study.
Pirl would hesitate to recommend social media to all older adults with pain and loneliness, however.
“People respond differently to it. Some people can become more anxious hearing other peoples’ stories or about other treatments for what they’re experiencing. There’s a lot of variability of whether social media is right for you,” he said.
People can also feel supported with phone calls or video conferencing, mobile apps or other technology that may have similar effects, he noted.
- Ang S, Chen TY. Going online to stay connected: Online social participation buffers the relationship between pain and depression. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2018 Sep 27. [Epub ahead of print]