How Instagram posts reveal whether you have depression: study – Stuff.co.nz

Last updated13:36, August 9 2017

The pictures you post on social media could offer clues into the state of your mental health, according to new research.

Just short of 44,000Instagramimages were examined in a study of 166 people, who were also asked questions about their history of mental health.

Filters, if used at all, prevalence of coloursand how many comments and likes each post received were examined.

Those who had depression typically posted images with darker hues and had fewer faces in their posts. They were also less likely to use filters when editing and uploading photos.

LEV DOLGACHOV/123RF

What you're sharing - or not sharing - on Instagram can offer insight into your mental health state.

READ MORE: *How to useInstagramand Snapchat on a computer *Instagramis the worst social network for young people's mental health *How much cash could you make with yourInstagram?

"When depressed participants did employ filters, they most disproportionately favoured the 'Inkwell' filter, which converts colour photographs to black-and-white images," the authors wrote in the paper published in the journal EPJ Data Science.

Healthy participants favoured the Valencia filter, which lightens the photo.

Chris Danforth

Images with the Valencia filter are likely to be used by those with sound mental health.

For people with depression,theirworld-view is often darker, they added, which could explain the photo filters they tended to choose. Those with a more positive frame of mind posted more frequently.

The researchers were eventually able to create an algorithm that could determine whether or not an Instagramuser would have depression. It had a 70 per cent success rate.

The algorithm studied people with similar qualities, like the fact theywere active on social media and willing to submit information on their mental health, making it difficult to know if it could be applied to the average user.

Chris Danforth

Images with darker hues are more likely to be shared by those suffering depression.

Study author and University of VermontComputational Story Lab co-director Chris Danforth told The Huffington Post:"It shows some promise to the idea that you might be able to build a tool like this to get individuals help sooner".

"The end goal of this would be creating something that monitors a person's voice, how they're moving around and what their social network looks like all the stuff we already reveal to our phones," he said.

"Then that could give doctors a ping to check in or at least some insight. Because maybe there's something going on that even the individual doesn't recognise about their behaviour."

Where to get help:

Lifeline (open 24/7) 0800 543 354

Depression Helpline (open 24/7) 0800 111 757

Kidsline (open 24/7) 0800 543 754. This service is for children aged 5 to 18. Those who ring between 4pm and 9pm on weekdays will speak to a Kidsline buddy. These are specially trained teenage telephone counsellors.

-Stuff

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How Instagram posts reveal whether you have depression: study - Stuff.co.nz

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