Could This Instagram Filter Indicate Undiagnosed Depression?

Nicole Singh

Social media has long been labelled a "highlight reel" for Instagram's religious users, with most of us using the platform to show only the best moments to our followers. But now, according to a new study released in the EPJ Data Science journal, certain Instagram filters could be an indicator of depression.

After looking at 40,000 posts from 166 people, the researchers were able to digitally determine who in the group had been diagnosed with depression and those who had not. Next, they looked at the way posts varied from these two groups of people. The findings? Depressed people filtered their snaps less often than people who were not. But they saw patterns in filters when they were used and the commonly used somber black and white filter "Inkwell" was the most popular filter used among those diagnosed with depression, as was the use of a face in photos. In contrast, the almost vintage filter, "Valencia" was common among more mentally healthy users.

As reported by The New York Times, the study concluded: "Given that mental health services are unavailable or underfunded in many countries, this computational approach, requiring only patients' digital consent to share their social media histories, may open avenues to care which are currently difficult or impossible to provide."

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