Adaptive and Maladaptive Means of Using Facebook: A Qualitative Pilot Study to Inform Suggestions for Development of a Future Intervention for Depression

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Existing literature examining the relation between social networking sites and mental health is primarily based on correlational methods and presents mixed findings. Many researchers neglect to examine the cognitive and behavioral processes used while online. This study’s qualitative approach strives to understand how individuals with elevated depressive symptoms may use Facebook following an interpersonal stressor. Participants’ narration of their Facebook use was coded. Common adaptive uses included using Facebook to seek social support, actively communicate, distract, recall positive memories, and reappraise negative thoughts. Maladaptive uses included engaging in social comparison, ruminating, and recalling negative memories. Feedback regarding development of a future intervention was also elicited. Suggestions included using Facebook to view positive, interesting, or meaningful information, distract, garner social support, and engage in social activities. Findings indicate that how one engages with Facebook after an interpersonal stressor may affect adjustment and may help to inform the development of a novel, Facebook-based intervention.

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