Published on 19 Apr 2023

The envy link between Facebook and depression

Using the social media platform more often leads to people becoming depressed.

Using the social media platform more often leads to people becoming depressed, a study led by NTU's Assoc Prof Edson Tandoc Jr has found.

Does using Facebook make people more depressed? Or do depressed people tend to flock to the social media platform? While studies in the past have found links between social media use and depression, many were done in the West and did not show if one led to the other – until now.

A survey of Singapore Facebook users found that when they use the social media platform frequently, it can lead to symptoms of depression. This, in turn, causes them to use Facebook even more, likely an attempt to make themselves feel good by reading other people’s posts to see if their own situation is better compared to that of others.

But Facebook users who already have symptoms of depression do not use Facebook more.

The study was led by Assoc Prof Edson Tandoc Jr from NTU’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and InformationIt polled about 1,200 people in Singapore in 2016, of which about 600 were surveyed again in 2017 and at least 350 of them were polled one more time in 2018.

The researchers also showed that Facebook users often become envious and feel inferior to others on the platform whom they believe lead a better or happier life. This feeling of envy subsequently leads to them becoming depressed.


Find out more about the study “Is Facebooking really depressing? Revisiting the relationships among social media use, envy, and depression” in Information, Communication & Society (2021). DOI: 10.1080/1369118X.2021.1954975.

The article appeared first in NTU's research & innovation magazine Pushing Frontiers (issue #21, December 2022).