Big Issues

New Research Suggests Your Instagram Feed May Reveal A Lot About Your Mental Health


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Earlier this year, TIME declared Instagram as the worst social media platform for mental health. Instagram is an endless feed of buff babes, smoothie bowls and travel pics. It’s like a breeding ground for FOMO.

But we can’t seem to stop scrolling. It’s so addictive. And the onslaught of bright, sun-dappled photos make it even more so.

A new study conducted by EPJ Data Science, Instagram Photos Reveal Predictive Markers Of Depression, found that depressed individuals were more likely to use no filters (or bluer, darker and grayer filters when they did) on their images as well as post more frequently.

Inkwell is a filter most commonly used by people with poor mental health. Valencia was used frequently by people with more stable mental health:

Flexing For The ‘Gram

We all know the concept, right? Flexing for the ‘gram is making sure your life looks super interesting, lush and fun just to show off for your Insta followers. Do you include your mates? What about capturing the perfect landscape shot or flat lay? So many options.

The study also found that depressed participants were more likely to post photos with faces in them, but had a lower average face count per photograph than healthy participants.

So What Does The Study Actually Teach Us?

The findings are super interesting, and they tell us two things: 1. that the markers of depression are observable in Instagram user behaviour and 2. that these depressive signals are detectable in posts even before the date of first diagnosis.

Where to from now? What if we lived in a world where health care providers were able to provide personalised care to individuals after assessing their social media profiles for depressive signals? This could “open avenues to care which are currently difficult or impossible to provide”.

If you suffer from depression and would like to talk to someone, you can reach Lifeline 24 hours a day on 13 11 14.