Volume 62, September 2016, Pages 613-619
Depression is one of the most common mental disorders. Studies have shown that various online social network (OSN) activities can be used as a marker for people’s moods as well as symptoms of subsyndromal depression, suggesting possibilities for online-based interventions. This study investigates one such potential by developing an expressive writing application within Facebook and by investigating how the designed intervention as well as various online social network activities contribute to improving one’s emotional state. Experimental data show that negative emotional words and cognitive words in online expressive writing are the two most important factors in alleviating depressive symptoms. Furthermore, participants who have had previous experience expressing emotions in OSNs reported the greatest reduction in depressive symptoms. Our findings have implications that can assist in designing personalized online intervention platforms and for sophisticated writing therapy to maximize the effect of expressive writing.