What your social media posts could be saying about you

What your social media posts could be saying about you

Your social media posts say a lot about you. Now, researchers are suggesting your Instagram posts may provide clues to your mental health state.

In a recent study, researchers asked participants to share photos from their Instagram feed as well as self-report on their mental health. Individuals completed questionnaires that assessed their depression levels. Using computer software, researchers analyzed nearly the 44,000 Instagram images of participants, looking for visual signs of depression, which included:

  • Posting bluer, grayer or darker images
  • Applying Instagram‘s ‘Inkwell’ filter (black-and-white); healthy participants frequently used a warmer-toned filter
  • Sharing photos with fewer faces in them

The results were promising: the software properly identified and diagnosed depression cases 70 percent of the time.

The researchers recognize depression isn’t easy to diagnose, but that this may be a helpful piece of the puzzle when it comes to assessing patients; they believe eventually, the tool may be utilized in suicide prevention.

Depression is such a common and treatable medical condition, and one that is frequently missed,” says Dr. Shannon Gritzenbach, director of outpatient behavioral health at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill.

“Increasing our screening tools is a great idea. People often mistakenly believe that if they are still able to function in daily life, or have fun on occasion, that they aren’t depressed.”

Dr. Gritzenbach says some individuals are able to cover their depression with a smile and sense of humor.

“Utilizing computer programs like this one could help to bypass these ‘facades’ by noticing unconscious patterns, and help more people become aware that they are struggling so that they can seek the appropriate help,” she says.

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About the Author

Holly Brenza
Holly Brenza

Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is the public affairs coordinator at Advocate Children's Hospital. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.