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Study finds a way of telling if you're depressed by what Instagram filter you use

The study used data such as colour tones and facial analysis from 166 Instagram users.

Image: Shutterstock/carballo

A NEW STUDY has found a way of measuring your mood through the types of filters you use on the image-sharing social media site Instagram.

The study was published on arXiv, an open-access service run by Cornell University that allows scientists to share research before it’s formally published. This is done in order to accelerate the pace at which others can build on the knowledge.

According to Andrew Reece of Harvard University and Chris Danforth of the University of Vermont, the results not only showed which users had depression, but outperformed traditional methods.

Most interestingly, these results were even able to detect those with depression before they had been officially diagnosed.

What were the signs?

The researchers found that Instagram photos posted by depressed individuals were more likely to be bluer, grayer, and darker.

Instagram Examples of photos the study analysed. Source: Instagram photos reveal predictive markers of depression

“When depressed participants did employ filters, they most disproportionately favoured the ‘Inkwell’ filter, which converts colour photographs to black-­and-­white images,” according to Reece and Danforth. By contrast, healthy individuals preferred a filter called Valencia, which lightens photographs.

They also found that depressed individuals were more likely to post photos with faces, but these photos tended to have fewer faces per photo and received fewer likes, than those who were happier.

The researchers have suggested that these findings pose “new avenues for early screening and detection of mental illness” as well as the possibility of diagnosing people en masse.

You can find the entire study here.

If you need to talk, contact:

  • Samaritans 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org
  • National Suicide Helpline 1800 247 247 – (suicide prevention, self-harm, bereavement)
  • Aware 1800 80 48 48 (depression, anxiety)
  • Pieta House 01 601 0000 or email mary@pieta.ie – (suicide, self-harm)
  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)
  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

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