These Words Are Signs Of Depression

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Depression affects 16 million
people in the US each year.
Using more pronouns like “I”
and “me” are two signs that someone is depressed, new research finds.
Other words used in social
media that might indicate depression include increased references to hostility
and loneliness, like “feelings” and “tears”.
The study suggests computers
may be able to spot the signs of depression just from social media posts.
The computer algorithm was
just as effective as directly getting someone to complete a depression
questionnaire, the study revealed.
Dr H. Andrew Schwartz, who led
the research, said:
“What people write in social
media and online captures an aspect of life that’s very hard in medicine and
research to access otherwise. 
It’s a dimension that’s
relatively untapped compared to biophysical markers of disease. 
Considering conditions such as
depression, anxiety, and PTSD, for example, you find more signals in the way
people express themselves digitally.”
The study used the Facebook
posts of 1,175 people that were matched up with their medical records to
confirm any depression diagnosis.
The computer was as effective
at diagnosing depression as a self-report scale, the results showed.
People who used more
first-person pronouns like “I” were more likely to be depressed, as were those
using phrases that suggested rumination and anxiety.

Dr Johannes Eichstaedt, the
study’s first author, said:
“Social media data contain
markers akin to the genome. 
With surprisingly similar methods
to those used in genomics, we can comb social media data to find these markers. 
Depression appears to be
something quite detectable in this way; it really changes people’s use of
social media in a way that something like skin disease or diabetes doesn’t.”
Dr Schwartz said:
“There’s a perception that
using social media is not good for one’s mental health, but it may turn out to
be an important tool for diagnosing, monitoring, and eventually treating it.
The study was published in the
journal PNAS (Eichstaedt et al., 2018).

Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.