How Instagram Can Reveal If You’re Depressed

It comes down to filters and consistency, really. Not necessarily the subject matter that you post.

Some Harvard researchers made a computer program that looks at pictures in someone’s Instagram account, and after analyzing them, was able to identify about 70% of the time when someone suffers from depression. They found that people who are depressed post pictures that have more blue tones, are darker (lighting, not subject), and more gray-ish looking pictures.

As far as determining by Instagram filters used, the “Inkwell” filter, which “drains” color out of a picture, was used more commonly with depressed people, and the “Valencia” filter, which creates a more “warm” tone to pictures, and helps bring out colors more, was used mostly by people who aren’t depressed.

A psychiatrist says “there are reasons why depression is called ‘blue,'” adding that it’s “like a dark or black cloud.” He went on to say that people who are depressed often wear darker colors, and overall tend to avoid bright things completely.

Interesting story, and thinking about it now, it does make sense. There are the creative types though who will use a wide variety of color, tone, and filters, and I guess that’s the other 30% that the computer program wasn’t able to identify.

The kicker? Doctors are right only about 42% of the time when diagnosing depression. Instagram is better at diagnosing depression than a doctor.


More from Mark S. Allen In The Morning

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