The study from professors at Harvard University and the University of Vermont appearing in the journal EPJ Data Science found visual cues within Instagram posts can help determine whether a user is suffering from depression. Study co-authors Andrew Reece and Christopher Danforth considered over 43,000 Instagram photos from 166 people, 71 of whom had previously dealt with reported depression.
The researchers' Instagram model worked the majority of the time to correctly identify depression, even in posts made before the researchers diagnosed the person's mental health status. But a recent study said pictures on social media can reveal a lot about your mental health.
Reece and Danforth hope their research will lead to better methods for diagnosing mental illness, specifically by incorporating new technologies.
The different Instagram filters used by “healthy” and “depressed” users. Chart EPJ Data Science 2017 paper
If they are darker, more likely to be black and white, and feature fewer people, the pictures may suggest sufferers are retreating from social contact.
Researchers said people with depression were more likely to choose a filter that drained all the color out of the images they wanted to share. With depression on the rise among USA teens and young adults (also Instagram's core demographic), better methods for diagnosing mental health problems are more important than ever.
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