Instagram has given us many positives (the ability to become an amateur photographer for one) but it’s also wreaked havoc on our lives.
Last year, the photo-sharing platform was described as the main culprit behind low self-esteem.
But a new study has found that Instagram could be used as a force for good by utilising it as a tool to diagnose depression.
Researchers at Harvard University and the University of Vermont studied the Instagram accounts of 166 people along with each person’s mental health.
71 people had been diagnosed with clinical depression in the last three years, leading researchers to identify certain markers of poor mental health in Instagram posts.
People suffering from depression were more likely to use darker colours in their photos, often favouring the black-and-white Inkwell filter.
Their Instagram posts were also less likely to feature people – suggesting less social contact – with selfies showing sadder expressions.
On the other hand, people with good mental health generally prefer “brighter, more vivid colours”, often using the Valencia filter.
Researchers believe that the findings are revolutionary and could lead to the development of a mental health diagnosis app, cutting costs and reducing waiting time for treatment.
“With an increasing share of our social interactions happening online, the potential for algorithmic identification of early-warning signs for a host of mental and physical illnesses is enormous,” co-author Dr Christopher Danforth told the Daily Mail.
“Imagine an app you can install on your phone that pings your doctor for a check-up when your behaviour changes for the worse, potentially before you even realise there is a problem.”
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