A pilot evaluation of associations between displayed depression references on Facebook and self-reported depression using a clinical scale

J Behav Health Serv Res. 2012 Jul;39(3):295-304. doi: 10.1007/s11414-011-9258-7.


The objective of this study was to determine associations between displayed depression symptoms on Facebook and self-reported depression symptoms using a clinical screen. Public Facebook profiles of undergraduates from two universities were examined for displayed depression references. Profiles were categorized as depression symptom displayers or non-displayers. Participants completed an online PHQ-9 depression scale. Analyses examined associations between PHQ-9 score and depression symptom displayers versus non-displayers. The mean PHQ-9 score for non-displayers was 4.7 (SD = 4.0), the mean PHQ-9 score for depression symptom displayers was 6.4 (SD = 5.1; p = 0.018). A trend approaching significance was noted that participants who scored into a depression category by their PHQ-9 score were more likely to display depression symptom references. Displayed references to depression symptoms were associated with self-reported depression symptoms.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Self Disclosure*
  • Self Report
  • Social Media*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Universities
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Young Adult