Two new full text research articles (preprints) made available on arXiv about the use of two popular social media services to help in predicting depression.
Andrew G. Reece
Christopher M. Danforth
University of Vermont
Using Instagram data from 166 individuals, we applied machine learning tools to successfully identify markers of depression. Statistical features were computationally extracted from 43,950 participant Instagram photos, using color analysis, metadata components, and algorithmic face detection. Resulting models outperformed general practitioners’ average diagnostic success rate for depression. These results held even when the analysis was restricted to posts made before depressed individuals were first diagnosed. Photos posted by depressed individuals were more likely to be bluer, grayer, and darker. Human ratings of photo attributes (happy, sad, etc.) were weaker predictors of depression, and were uncorrelated with computationally-generated features. These findings suggest new avenues for early screening and detection of mental illness.
Moin Nadeem, Mike Horn, Glen Coppersmith
Johns Hopkins University
Dr. Sandip Sen, PhD
University of Tulsa
Social media has recently emerged as a premier method to disseminate information online. Through these online networks, tens of millions of individuals communicate their thoughts, personal experiences, and social ideals. We therefore explore the potential of social media to predict, even prior to onset, Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) in online personas. We employ a crowdsourced method to compile a list of Twitter users who profess to being diagnosed with depression. Using up to a year of prior social media postings, we utilize a Bag of Words approach to quantify each tweet. Lastly, we leverage several statistical classifiers to provide estimates to the risk of depression. Our work posits a new methodology for constructing our classifier by treating social as a text-classification problem, rather than a behavioral one on social media platforms. By using a corpus of 2.5M tweets, we achieved an 81% accuracy rate in classification, with a precision score of .86. We believe that this method may be helpful in developing tools that estimate the risk of an individual being depressed, can be employed by physicians, concerned individuals, and healthcare agencies to aid in diagnosis, even possibly enabling those suffering from depression to be more proactive about recovering from their mental health.