Is toxic politics leading to unhappiness among Facebook users?

By  | 

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (CBS) A new study shows that people who leave Facebook are happier. A big reason for that is because they're getting away from political posts. But experts say can also put up a filter, without unplugging completely.

It's a year from the caucus in Iowa and presidential hopefuls are starting to swarm.

Politics is ramping up in pivotal states, and also in our newsfeeds. People eager to discuss -- and argue -- thoughts and views.

But political science professor Bruce Nesmith says just because its immediate doesn't mean its productive.

"Social media is not an answer, it's a tool. So just like you can use a hammer to build a house, you can use a hammer to smash something.

It doesn't just smash proper political discourse, a new study shows it can smash your mood.

"Hopeless, helpless, anger, frustration," said Lisa Kim, a social worker with Psychiatric Associates in Iowa City. She says in recent years she's seen a spike in people needing to process the political climate in therapy. "It was unlike anything I had ever seen in the entire time I've been in practice."

She says people quick to the keyboard haven't helped. "There's that person you were friends with from middle school who is very right or left-wing, and they're continually posting stuff, so people sort of feel at the mercy of these things," Kim said.

But many people feel if they leave Facebook completely they'll miss out on what's going on in the world. Kim and Bruce have a few tips:

Pick one to three go-to news sources that aren't on Facebook, where they can be clouded with polarized comments. And if you don't want to "un-friend," use the "un-follow" option.

And lastly, they suggest choosing one or two political causes that you will personally take action on, to feel less at the mercy of online arguments and make an impact in the real world.

Experts also say you should stay off social media right before bedtime since it can add stresses that can make you lose sleep.