Instagram Use Can Show Depression

Depressed people have bluer and darker Instagram photos
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 23, 2016 1:40 PM CDT
Instagram Use Can Show Depression
A new study found Instagram posts (though not specifically this one) can be used to detect depression in users by looking at hue, saturation, filters, and more.   (Instagram)

Your Instagram account may know you're depressed before you do, according to a new study out of Harvard and the University of Vermont. The Daily Dot reports researchers taught a computer to analyze aspects of Instagram photos, such as colors, brightness, and faces, then set in to analyzing nearly 44,000 posts from 166 people. The Instagram users in the study took a clinical depression survey and were asked about any history of depression, according to Fortune. CNN reports the computer program was able to correctly detect depression from a person's Instagram account 70% of the time. That's better than humans looking at Instagram photos and better than the success rate of general practitioners diagnosing depression.

Researchers found the Instagram posts of depressed people tended to be less saturated, darker, and more blue. Depressed people tended to use the Inkwell filter most often (non-depressed people preferred Valencia) and got more comments on their posts (non-depressed people got more likes). Depressed people also posted more photos of faces but had fewer faces per photo. Because the computer program was able to detect depression in Instagram users before the were even diagnosed with it, researchers believe it could be a new way to screen people for depression before they start showing more serious symptoms and get them help earlier. (This party drug may soon treat depression.)

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