The Leading News & Information Service For The Facilities, Workplace & Built Environment Community

Not Feeling Social? Program Spots The Signs

20 October 2017 | Updated 01 January 1970
 

A computer program has been developed that is able to correctly identify depressed individuals from their social media photos 70% of the time, according to a study involving 166 users of a popular social media app.

In comparison, previous research has shown that general practitioners can make a correct unassisted diagnosis of depression 42% of the time. The research is published in the open access journal EPJ Data Science.

Dr Christopher Danforth, study co-author from the University of Vermont, said: "Our analysis of user accounts from a popular social media app revealed that photos posted by people diagnosed with depression tended to be darker in colour, received more comments from the community, were more likely to contain faces and less likely to have a filter applied. When they did select a filter they were more likely to use the filter that converted colour images to black and white. People diagnosed with depression also posted at a higher frequency compared to non-depressed individuals."

Dr Danforth added: "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. 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."

 

Research

The researchers used the computer program to analyse 43,950 photos, following recruitment of 166 users of a popular social media app, including 71 people that had a clinical diagnosis of depression. The program scoured the photos for details that were associated with healthy and depressed individuals. This information was then used to see if the program could predict who would go on to be diagnosed with depression by only looking at photos that were posted before their diagnosis.

Dr Andrew Reece, study co-author from Harvard University, said: "Although we had a relatively small sample size, we were able to reliably observe differences in features of social media posts between depressed and non-depressed individuals. Importantly, we also demonstrate that the markers of depression can be observed in posts made prior to the person receiving a clinical diagnosis of depression."

 

Exclusions

The study is limited by the generalisation of the term 'depression' in the data collection process. Depression is a complex, multifaceted illness and is frequently present with other health conditions. Future research should seek to address the reliability of the computer model against more finely tuned definitions of depressive disorders, according to the researchers. Furthermore, a total of 509 participants were initially recruited, but 43% were dropped from the study because they did not consent to sharing their social media data. This raises concerns around data privacy which will need to be addressed should a similar model be developed for widespread clinical use.

Picture: Can you social media profile and use help to diagnose depression?

 

Article written by Cathryn Ellis | Published 20 October 2017

Share



Related Articles

The Changing Needs of the Workforce – A Psychotherapist's View

Psychotherapist Noam Sagi explores how facilities managers can better respond to a post-pandemic workforce. Noam Sagi is a Psychotherapist, Change...

 Read Full Article
How Can Bosses Support Employees' Financial Wellbeing?

21 per cent of employees say support from their employer for their financial wellbeing falls short of their expectations. Whilst employees are impressed by...

 Read Full Article
The Right to Disconnect at Work – Is it A Legal Matter?

A European Parliament majority has voted for a law that grants workers the right to digitally disconnect from work without facing negative repercussions. MEPs are...

 Read Full Article
Five Things Every FM Needs to Know About Workplace Wellbeing

Psychotherapist and Change Facilitator Noam Sagi defines the employee wellbeing priorities every facilities manager should know about. In this opinion piece,...

 Read Full Article
Prompt Payment Code – Fairness in Supply Chain

It is more important than ever that companies treat their supply chain partners fairly, especially when it comes to payment, according to the Building Engineering...

 Read Full Article
Buyer's Guide – Mental Health Training Tools

As employee wellbeing remains a priority for facilities and workplace managers, explore the variety of mental health training tools...

 Read Full Article
Looking After Security Guards' Wellbeing With Technology

Being a security officer can often mean long shifts, night work, rushed meals, little movement, and poor work-life balance, leading to an effect on mental health and...

 Read Full Article
UK Workers Reportedly Disengaged Yet Content

Gallup’s latest State of the Global Workplace report finds that the UK and Western Europe have the lowest employee engagement levels globally at just...

 Read Full Article
First International Guide on Psychosocial Hazards at Work Published

A new standard, named "ISO 45003: Occupational health and safety management — Psychological health and safety at work — Guidelines for managing...

 Read Full Article
WHO Study Shows Long Working Hours Kills 745,000 People a Year

In the first global analysis of the loss of life and health associated with working long hours, it's been shown that working excessive hours led to 745,000...

 Read Full Article