Your Instagram posts may hold clues to your mental health

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Your Instagram posts may hold clues to your mental health

A team of researchers at Harvard University's Department of Psychology and the University of Vermont have found a way to spot if you're depressed.

The study, in EPJ Data Science, looked at nearly 44,000 posts from 166 people (71 of them depressed) using color analysis, metadata, and face detection software.

A study claims an important tool for helping to determine whether you have depression: Instagram.

PICTURES posted on social media can be used to predict if someone is depressed.

The different Instagram filters used by “healthy” and “depressed” users.    
   Chart EPJ Data Science 2017 paper
The different Instagram filters used by “healthy” and “depressed” users. Chart EPJ Data Science 2017 paper

Researchers say this algorithm was accurate 70 percent of the time.

They also found that even though people with depression were more likely to post photos with faces, those photos had fewer faces, in general, suggesting they had smaller social circles or perhaps posted more selfies.

The study said users "had an outsized preference for filtering out all color from posted photos, and showed an aversion to artificially lightening photos, compared to non-depressed controls". "Depressed people also tended to prefer Instagram's Inkwell filter, which turns a color image into black-and-white, whereas healthy participants preferred the Valencia filter, which gives photos a warmer, brighter tone".

The study involved data from 166 Instagram users, analyzing more than 43,000 photos.

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