CHICAGO – Add “Facebook depression” to potential harms linked with social media, an influential doctors’ group warns, referring to a condition it says may affect troubled teens who obsess over the online site.

Researchers disagree on whether it’s simply an extension of depression some kids feel in other circumstances, or a distinct condition linked with using the social networking site.

But Facebook has unique aspects that can make it a particularly tough social landscape to navigate for kids already dealing with poor self-esteem, said Dr. Gwenn O’Keeffe, a Boston-area pediatrician and lead author of new American Academy of Pediatrics social media guidelines.

With friends’ tallies, status updates and photos of happy-looking people having great times, Facebook pages can make some kids feel even worse if they think they don’t measure up.

It can be more painful than sitting alone in a crowded school cafeteria or other real-life encounters, O’Keeffe said, because Facebook provides a skewed view of what’s really going on. Online, there’s no way to see facial expressions or read body language that provide context.

The guidelines urge doctors to encourage parents to talk with kids about online use and to be aware of Facebook depression, cyberbullying, sexting and other online risks. They were published online today in Pediatrics.

Abby Abolt, 16, a Chicago high school sophomore, says the site has never made her feel depressed, but she can understand how it might affect some kids.

“If you really didn’t have that many friends and weren’t really doing much with your life, and saw other people’s status updates and pictures and what they were doing with friends, I could see how that would make them upset,” she said.

“It’s like a big popularity contest — who can get the most friend requests or get the most pictures tagged,” she said.

Also, it’s common for some teens to post judgmental messages on the Facebook walls of people they don’t like, said Gaby Navarro, a senior from Grays-lake, Ill. It’s happened to her friends, and she said she could imagine how that could make some teens feel depressed.

“It’s good to raise awareness about it,” said Navarro, 18.

Online harassment “can cause profound psychosocial outcomes,” including suicide, the academy guidelines note. A Massachusetts 15-year-old’s widely publicized suicide last year occurred after she’d been bullied, in person and on Facebook.

But O’Keeffe said the benefits of sites like Facebook shouldn’t be overlooked, such as connecting with other people, sharing pictures and exchanging ideas.