A new study has determined that there is a link between heavy internet use and depression.

However, the researchers could not say with certainty which comes first, although they did offer the consolation that most internet users were free of mental health problems.

Published in the journal Psychopathology, the study was conducted by a team from Leeds University. It examined responses from an online questionnaire answered by 1,319 people, aged between 16 and 51, and recruited through links on social networking sites.

The questionnaire measured how much the respondents used the net, why they used it, and their tendencies towards depression.

1.2% addicted

According to the answers, 18 respondents were determined to be internet addicts, and the study concluded "there was a close relationship between internet addict tendencies and depression, such that internet addict respondents were more depressed; there were also significant differences between the sexes, with men showing more addictive tendencies than women.

"In addition, young people were significantly more likely to show addictive symptoms than were older people."

Dr Catriona Morrison, lead author of the study, said: "Our research indicates that excessive internet use is associated with depression, but what we don't know is which comes first - are depressed people drawn to the internet or does the internet cause depression?"

"Now we need to investigate the nature of that relationship and consider the issue of causation."

Of course, you could always get therapy from all those 'Facebook friends'

Via BBC