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Could Facebook envy lead to symptoms of depression?

Have you ever scrolled through an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend's photos? Or wistfully "Liked" a co-worker's beautiful vacation snapshots?

That kind of envious behavior on Facebook can lead to depression, according to a study published Tuesday in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.

Researchers looked at a subject pool of 700 college journalism students and found that those who engaged in "surveillance use" of the social network were more likely to report symptoms of depression than those who used it simply to stay in touch with people.

What is "surveillance use" of Facebook?

"If Facebook is used to see how well an acquaintance is doing financially or how happy an old friend is in his relationship — things that cause envy among users — use of the site can lead to feelings of depression," Margaret Duffy, one of the study's authors and a professor of communication at the University of Missouri, said in a statement.

Facebook declined to comment for this story.

Basically, when you size up your own life and accomplishments with those of your friends, you might start feeling envy, which can lead to symptoms of depression, the study said. Those who used the site simply to connect with friends and family did not report negative effects.

The solution to going down a rabbit hole of envy and depression, according to study co-author Edson Tandoc, an assistant professor at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, is to remember that most people "only post positive things about themselves."

She added, "This self-awareness, hopefully, can lessen feelings of envy.”

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