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The stress of being social

Docters warn that social networking sites can cause psychological stress, after a teenager suffered asthma attacks caused by seeing his ex-girlfriend online.

health and fitness Updated: Nov 21, 2010 01:13 IST

After a teenager suffered asthma attacks caused by seeing his ex-girlfriend online, doctors are now warning that social networking website Facebook could trigger extreme stress reactions.



The depressed 18-year-old, who was denied access to her site after the break-up, was able to log back in using a made-up nickname. But the shock of seeing her brought on an asthma attack, which was repeated each time he looked at his ex-girlfriend’s profile, reports medical journal

The Lancet

.



Doctors in Italy claim social networking websites may be “a new source of psychological stress”, according to the

Daily Mail

. Gennaro D’Amato, of the Antonio Cardarelli High Speciality Hospital, Naples, Italy and colleagues, said the patient was depressed after breaking up with the girl who had also deleted him from her site, while “friending” (sic) many new young men. By disguising himself with a new Facebook nickname, he managed to become her friend once more and was confronted by her picture.



The sight of this seemed to induce shortness of breath, which happened whenever the patient viewed her profile. After advice from the doctors, the man’s mother asked him to check his lung capacity using a peak flow meter which showed it was cut by more than 20 percent during these episodes. “In collaboration with a psychiatrist, the patient resigned not to login to Facebook any longer and the asthma attacks stopped,” say study authors. “We suggest that this type of trigger be considered in the assessment of asthma exacerbations.”