Why your Instagram filter of choice could be a sign of depression

Why your Instagram filter of choice could be a sign of depression

Why your Instagram filter of choice could be a sign of depression

"Statistical features were computationally extracted from 43,950 participant Instagram photos, using color analysis, metadata components, and algorithmic face detection", an extract from the study reads.

And it was so successful that they were able to develop a program that can diagnose depression with 70% accuracy, compared to an average of 42% correct unassisted diagnosis by Global Positioning System.

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

"This is preliminary work, and it needs to be more thoroughly tested, vetted and replicated before we can safely claim that an algorithm can truly identify markers of depression in Instagram posts", Reece said.

The tool they built to scan Instagram posts, they said, could accurately identify depression in 70% of their study's participants. It would not be able to replace current diagnosis methods but would help speed up the process or help give doctors more insight to their patients than self-reported data.

Years of prior research have established that depressed people are more likely to prefer darker or paler colors, said Dr. Igor Galynker.

Those who had depression typically posted images with darker hues and had fewer faces in their posts.

What the scientists found was that even before depressed users were officially diagnosed, they tended to have a preference for posting images that were grayer/bluer in color - and darker - than those of healthy users.

In a report published August 8 in the EPJ Data Science journal, scientists analyzed over 40,000 Instagram pictures from 166 individuals who provided their mental health histories.

The results showed that Instagram behaviour could predict which users were suffering from depression, and that evidence of the illness could be seen via the images before it had been diagnosed.

What if you were feeling depressed, but didn't quite know it yet - would your depression still show up somehow in the photos you shared online?

People with depression also tended to use fewer filters than others. Ideally, Danforth says the best outcome of technology like this is getting those individuals the medical support that they need. Using previous psychological research regarding depression and color choices, the AI system initially sorts for warm and bright colors versus more muted tones.

"It's better if we can get somebody who [might] die by suicide in 2018 in front of a psychologist sooner because there's something about their social media that made it clear to the machine that they needed help and it wasn't obvious to the people around them", Danforth told Refinery29.

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