Unfolding the notes from the walls: Adolescents’ depression manifestations on Facebook

Yaakov Ophir*, Christa S.C. Asterhan, Baruch B. Schwarz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Little is known about the manifestation of teenage depression on Social Network Sites (SNS) in general, and in adolescents’ Facebook status updates in particular. Objective In this study, we compare the traditional ‘offline’ clinical picture of depression with its online manifestations and explore unique features of online depression that are less dominant ‘offline’. Method We collected 190 Facebook status updates of adolescents-at-risk (14–18 yrs), who receive psychosocial treatment. Ten licensed psychologists rated the extent to which a status update contained references to depression (α = 0.96). Results Based on both theory-driven as well as bottom-up approaches, a coding scheme was developed, resulting in a total of 13 features that significantly differentiated between ‘depressive status updates’ and ‘non-depressive status updates’. Detailed descriptions and examples of these features are offered. Furthermore, a multiple regression analysis revealed four status update features that predicted status update depression scores: (1) DSM-5 depressive symptoms (including emotional and behavioral, but not somatic symptoms); (2) cognitive distortions; (3) poetic-dramatic form of verbal content; and (4) attitudes toward others. Conclusions We discuss the findings and highlight unique features of online depression manifestation, which will ultimately contribute to early (and perhaps even automatic) detection of adolescents’ depression from their online SNS activities.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)96-107
Number of pages12
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd


  • Adolescents
  • Depression
  • Detection
  • Social media
  • Social networks


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