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Can social media predict psychiatric conditions?

If you've struggled with a medical condition without the correct diagnosis, you're one of many. You shouldn't have to go without a diagnosis, and an incorrect diagnosis can mean that you struggle much longer than you need to.

An interesting study has shown that a social networking program, Instagram, may actually be better at collecting information that can help diagnose a person's depression than a doctor would be. An artificial intelligence program identified the users who had clinical depression with 70 percent accuracy during the research study by Harvard and the University of Vermont.

The study states that the program looked at 166 different Instagram profiles that had 43,950 photos. The system used metadata, face detection and color to identify the users struggling with depression. Using primarily photographic colors and brightness, the program was able to identify those who were clinically depressed at a rate better than the rate general practitioners do during in-patient assessments. Previously, it was shown that general practitioners only identify depression correctly around 42 percent of the time.

This is not the only study that has look at how social media can help predict psychiatric disorders, but no previous study had used visual input as a source of identification. Using visual fields as a guide, the program used things like darker colors or gray filters to identify those with the propensity for depression. It also calculated how often the users posted and counted the number of likes and comments to identify social interaction.

This kind of process is still new, but it could help people like yourself get the right diagnosis more easily. For now, if your doctor has not listened and you've suffered because of his or her negligence, you can file a claim.

Source: Digital Trends, "Instagram may be more accurate at diagnosing depression than a doctor, study suggests," Hillary Grigonis, accessed June 28, 2017

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