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Monday, August 14, 2017

Do Your Instagram Posts Signal Depression?

Can your Instagram posts hold clues to your mental health? Possibly, according to researchers who used computer algorithms to determine characteristics associated with depression. 

For the study, published in the journal EPJ Data Science, researchers recruited 166 people, 71 of whom had a history of depression. They used a computer program to analyze nearly 44,000 photos, including each photo’s hue, color saturation and brightness, as well as the number of faces it contained. 

“People in our sample who were depressed tended to post photos that, on a pixel-by-pixel basis, were bluer, darker and grayer on average than healthy people,” said Andrew Reece, a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University and co-author of the study with Christopher Danforth, a professor at the University of Vermont.

Other findings among those with a history of depression included: 
  • More human faces posted.
  • Less of face shown, when including a photo with their face.
  • Less use of Instagram filters to adjust photo's brightness and coloring.
  • Greater use of the Inkwell filter (which would make the photo black and white) when they did use filters.
  • More frequent Instagram posts.
  • More comments on their Instagram posts.
  • Fewer likes. 
The researchers also said that "our model showed considerable improvement over the ability of unassisted general practitioners to correctly diagnose depression," which is a bit of a leap, according to many experts.  

Spotting the Signs of Depression
Perhaps rather than paying too much attention to your Instagram account, you’ll want to pay attention to the warning signs of depression, including:
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Insomnia
  • Sleeping too much
  • Changes in appetite or weight 
  • Physical pain
  • Memory problems
  • Social withdrawal
  • Unexplained sadness 
  • Loss of interest in hobbies/activities
Getting Help for Depression and Addiction
As addiction worsens, so does the co-occurring condition — and vice versa. At Hope Academy, we specialize in treating both diseases simultaneously. To learn more, call us toll-free today: 866-930-4673.

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