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Instagram photos can reveal signs of depression, study suggests

News Desk
News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Tue, August 15, 2017 | 06:06 pm
Instagram photos can reveal signs of depression, study suggests

By uploading the Instagram photos into a computer program, researchers found that individuals with a depression history tend to post picture with tones that are more blue, darker and shows less of their own face. (Shutterstock/File)

If your Instagram is filled with photos with darker, bluer and grayer hues, you may want to check the state of your mental health, as a recent study has shown it could be a sign of depression. 

Scientists had analyzed over 40,000 Instagram photos from 166 people who volunteered their mental health records in a study published on EPJ Data Science earlier this month. Approximately half of the participants revealed they had been diagnosed with clinical depression in the last three years. 

By uploading the Instagram photos into a computer program, researchers found that individuals with a depression history tend to post picture with tones that are more blue, darker and grayer, as opposed to vibrant colors. Further, pictures with faces in it tended to be fewer faces per photo.

The program was also able to identify individuals who were previously diagnosed with depression, which was correct in 70 percent of the time. 

"This points toward a new method for early screening of depression and other emerging mental illnesses,” says co-study-author Chris Danforth, a professor at the University of Vermont, in a press release.

Read also: Study suggests a good night's sleep can help prevent depression

"This study is not yet a diagnostic test, not by a long shot, but it is a proof of concept of a new way to help people," he added. 

This study also provides an important note, that artificial intelligence can be used to help detect psychiatric illness in the future.

"Patients may shy away from mental health issues when speaking to their general physician and feel less stigmatized in front of a computer. Additionally, physicians may not follow a very specific set of ‘formulated’ questions as done by a computer," Joe Taravella, a PhD and clinical psychologist, told Yahoo Beauty. "We need to move beyond the ‘checklist’ screening and create the comfort of an open and honest dialogue to enhance patient physical and mental health.”

However, scientists are also aware that the use of technology must be done with great caution and that it does not simplify the diagnosis solely on the basis of one's footprint in social media.

"For many people, using social media is now second nature and forms a part of our daily lives, so being able to integrate mental health support within these platforms offers exciting possibilities," said Chloe Grass-Orkin of Rethink Mental Illness, as quoted by Buzzfeed. (liz/kes)

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