You might visit Facebook when you're bored or feeling blah, but the network could make your mood even worse—if you're the jealous type, according to a study recently published in the academic journal Computers in Human Behavior.
Researchers recruited 736 college students who use Facebook for about two hours per day and distributed surveys to find out exactly how they use Facebook (i.e., to write status updates, post photos, read their newsfeeds, etc.). To figure out how Facebook affects people's moods, researchers also administered an eight-item questionnaire to assess envy and a 20-item questionnaire to measure symptoms of depression.
Lucky for Facebook addicts, researchers didn't find a direct link between Facebook use and depression: The heaviest users were no more likely to be depressed than less active users. However, students who used Facebook the most, overall, spent more time Facebook-stalking the shit out of their friends. Because most people use Facebook to project the most flattering versions of themselves, browsing other people's seemingly perfect profiles can make you jealous. And it should come as no surprise that the students who were most envious, as per the surveys, were especially prone to depression too.
The takeaway is that Facebook can definitely affect your mood—but it will only turn you into Debbie Downer if you let it get to you. But if you can browse Facebook without feeling jealous (bravo, good luck with that), or you can spend less time browsing and more time posting #HumbleBrag status updates and amazing photos of yourself, you're probably in the clear—and might even benefit from a mood boost, according to study authors. Another way to avoid envy and the black cloud that ensues? Check out your own profile every now and then. Science says it can actually increase your self-esteem—a quality that's worthy of a Facebook "like."
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.