How are Researchers Pinpointing Depression via Social Media?

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How are Researchers Pinpointing Depression via Social Media?

pinpointing depression

You may think that uploading a simple picture on Instagram or posting a quote on Facebook is harmless, and sometimes it is. What you post on social media says a lot about who you are and how you want the world to view you. Phone and social media addiction has been a hot topic lately, and a 2014 study published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking confirms that prolonged social media use could be linked with depression. Researchers are starting to piece together an algorithm designed to track users who could be struggling with depression and anxiety.

Computer programmer and internet entrepreneur Mark Zuckerberg stated recently,

“…there have been terribly tragic events – like suicides, some live streamed – that perhaps could have been prevented if someone had realized what was happening and reported them sooner”.  

According to BBC, studies have found that if you have depression, you are more likely to have pictures that are featured bluer, greyer, darker, and with fewer faces on Instagram. Researchers from Harvard University and the University of Vermont employed these techniques while analyzing almost 44,000 Instagram posts. The results of their study correctly identified 70% of all users with depression, meaning a new pathway towards providing support.

A tool called “AnalyzeWords” allows you type in your Twitter handle to assess emotional and thinking styles. While this is a more basic function, researchers are looking into this more to see how tools can be used to help people get support when they need it.

The study conducted by Harvard and Vermont researchers also examined almost 280,000 tweets and found that signals of depression include increased use of “negative” words such as “no”, “never”, “prison”, or “murder”, and a decrease in use of “positive” words such as “happy”, “beach”, and “photo”.

With these levels of technology analysis, researchers are looking to branch out into areas such as motherhood to determine if prenatal anxiety and/or depression. Many do consider these tactics to be invasive – if someone posts information on social media, should their information be automatically available for analysis?

The key concern should be to provide support to those who need it. If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, addiction, etc., reach out for help today. There are many people who can give you the resources you need to lead a happier life.

 

 

 

 

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