With cute selfies from our besties, fashion-forward Instagram dogs and Internet-official celebs to stalk, there’s no wonder scrolling through Instagram is one of our favorite ways to kill time. But even though most people use the app to build their personal brand or share fun pics with their loved ones (or, let’s be real, just obsess over Adele’s Instagram), a new report suggests that our Instagram feeds (and our fave filters) are actually great predictors of our mental health, specifically depression.
Thanks to a new study by Harvard University’s Andrew Reece and the University of Vermont’s Chris Danforth, new research suggests that Instagram is actually a pretty good indicator of its users’ mental health. The researchers asked 166 participants to volunteer their full Instagram histories — we’re talking about over 43,950 photos here, people! Analyzing each photo for color, brightness and number of people included, they then asked each participant to complete a standard psychological test for depression.
The results of the study concluded that the participants who were struggling with depression often posted a very specific type of photo on Instagram. Their pics usually were less bright and colorful than the participants without depression, with the most popular filter being Inkwell (AKA the grainy B+W option).
In a continuation of the study, the researchers then wanted to determine if the general public could predict if someone was depressed solely through their Instagram feed. Asking volunteers to rate the photos posted by others in terms of happiness, sadness, likeability and interestingness, the volunteers overwhelmingly categorized the Instagram feeds of those suffering from depression as sadder than the others.
Although this new information may have the potential to save lives in the future (the researchers believe that this information could act as a new type of psychological warning sign for depression), the study should probably be taken with a grain of salt, seeing as it hasn’t quite passed the industry standard of being peer edited and published yet. But regardless of its scientific merit, it’s still a good idea to check in with your Instagram friends if their pics are seeming a little muted lately.
Can you predict your friends’ mental health by their Instagram pics? Tweet us by mentioning @BritandCo.
(Photos via Getty)