Your Instagram Could Actually Reveal a Lot About Your Mental Health

Even using certain filters on Instagram could signify depression
IMAGE Getty Raúl Vázquez / EyeEm

When we post to Instagram many of us may choose a filter which makes that photo bolder still. But, while you may not think that much into your choices when you edit a photo, it can actually reveal a lot about your mental health, and could even signify depression.

A new psychological study by Harvard University and the University of Vermont has found that there are several key indicators of depression within photos. Here are just some of the visual cues:

Most common markers of depression in Instagram photos

  • The images tend to be darker, grayer or bluer
  • Black and white photos are popular, with Inkwell being the preferred filter
  • They feature fewer people and fewer faces, suggesting less social contact
  • Selfies are likely to reveal a sad expression on their face
  • Photos by people suffering from depression often get less 'likes'

People who suffer from depression often post black and white images


Scientists conducting the study asked volunteers to share their Instagram feeds along with their mental health history. Overall, the researchers accumulated 43,950 photos posted to Instagram by 166 different people. The number of people within this collective who had suffered clinical depression within the last three years was 71, just under half of the group.

The photos were analysed for brightness, shade and color and the markers for depression were detected by a new computer that can recognize depression in photos uploaded to social media with 70% accuracy.

The research also showed that the participants who were healthier and happier preferred to use brightening filters such as Valencia. Warmer hues were popular among this group.

"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," Dr Christopher Danforth, study co-author from the University of Vermont, told Mail Online.

The research, published in the journal EPJ Data Science, shows that social media could be used to diagnose mental health problems earlier on.

"Imagine an app you can install on your phone that pings your doctor for a check-up when your behavior changes for the worse, potentially before you even realize there is a problem."

From: CountryLivingUK

This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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