Some studies report that spending time on Facebook is detrimental to people with low self-esteem, while other experts contend that some dark posts can actually be signs of depression and that the social network can act as a source for early detection and intervention.

As The New York Times reports, last year researchers examined the Facebook profiles of 200 students from the University of Washington and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. They found that roughly 30 percent of the participants posted updates that met the American Psychiatric Association’s criteria for a symptom of depression. Some of these symptoms include posting about feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness, insomnia or sleeping too much and having difficulties concentrating.

“You can identify adolescents and young adults on Facebook who are showing signs of being at risk, who would benefit from a clinical visit for screening,” principle investigator Megan A. Moreno told The Times.

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Facebook recently announced plans to pair depressed users with a crisis counselor from National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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