Your Instagram Posts May Hold Clues to Your Mental Health

The photos you share online speak volumes. They can serve as a form of self-expression or a record of travel. They can reflect your style and your quirks. But they might convey even more than you realize: The photos you share may hold clues to your mental health, new research suggests.

From the colors and faces in their photos to the enhancements they make before posting them, Instagram users with a history of depression seem to present the world differently from their peers, according to the study, published this week in the journal EPJ Data Science.

“People in our sample who were depressed tended to post photos that, on a pixel-by-pixel basis, were bluer, darker and grayer on average than healthy people,” said Andrew Reece, a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University and co-author of the study with Christopher Danforth, a professor at the University of Vermont.

The pair identified participants as “depressed” or “healthy” based on whether they reported having received a clinical diagnosis of depression in the past. They then used machine-learning tools to find patterns in the photos and to create a model predicting depression by the posts.

They found that depressed participants used fewer Instagram filters, those which allow users to digitally alter a photo’s brightness and coloring before it is posted. When these users did add a filter, they tended to choose “Inkwell,” which drains a photo of its color, making it black-and-white. The healthier users tended to prefer “Valencia,” which lightens a photo’s tint.

Depressed participants were more likely to post photos containing a face. But when healthier participants did post photos with faces, theirs tended to feature more of them, on average.

The researchers used software to analyze each photo’s hue, color saturation and brightness, as well as the number of faces it contained. They also collected information about the number of posts per user and the number of comments and likes on each post.

Though they warned that their findings may not apply to all Instagram users, Mr. Reece and Mr. Danforth argued that the results suggest that a similar machine-learning model could someday prove useful in conducting or augmenting mental health screenings.

“We reveal a great deal about our behavior with our activities,” Mr. Danforth said, “and we’re a lot more predictable than we’d like to think.”

Source: New York Times

Why It’s Hot

The link between photos and health is an interesting one to explore. The role of new/alternate technologies (or just creative ways of using existing ones) in identifying illness — whether mental or otherwise — is something we are sure to see more of.

Frazzled? Struggling with mental illness? Have a cup of tea and talk.

In the U.K., the famous venerable retailer, Marks & Spencer, has teamed up with a comedian, Ruby Wax to convert their cafes on Fridays to places where people are encouraged to discuss their mental illness…talk and tea therapy..

It is called “Frazzled Café”. Minus stigma nor judgment, come and talk.

Why is this hot? Because it comes at a tough juncture for the issues around mental illness. Among many advocates for mental illness, the rising awareness and funding to treat it also occurs is at a tipping point. Mental illness is all over the news. The VA of all places lead the way in innovation due to PTSD. But by 2020, there will be 50,000 less psychiatrists. Multiply that by the number of patients a psychiatrist might see over just a decade and you see the collision — awareness rises, help diminishes.Not a successful formula. So people are looking for different ways to support the cause. From a marketing perspective, it is a forward-looking example of a major brand taking a stand on an issue and putting money behind it

.Of course humans are very resourceful.Telehealth is playing a role by creating remote workers who have an M.S. in psychology or social work — but by law they cannot prescribe. Minus psychiatrists, this is a good substitute since talk therapy is an effective way to manage mental illness. But it is only half the answer.

Visit the site. The crowdsourcing element and Ruby’s words are good reading.

https://www.frazzledcafe.org/

 

Beyond the Pill Comes to Life with Digestible Chip Sensor

The FDA’s acceptance of the first digital medicine-New Drug Application took place this week.. It will pair Proteus Digital Health’s ingestible sensor platform with Otsuka Pharmaceuticals’ FDA-approved Abilify drug to treat people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and in some cases for major depressive disorder to monitor adherence.

The Abilify tablet contains an ingestible sensor that communicates with a wearable sensor patch and medical software application. The idea is to measure adherence.

Otsuka CEO for development and commercialization Dr. William Carson said in a statement that patients suffering from severe mental illnesses struggle with adhering to or communicating with their healthcare teams about their medication regimen, which can greatly impact outcomes and disease progression.

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The Proteus digital health feedback system combines an ingestible sensor placed on a pill, with a wearable sensor on an adhesive patch, and a mobile application that displays data on a mobile device, such as a smartphone.

The technology behind the embedded sensor is pretty cool. Stomach juices activate an energy source — similar to a potato starch battery. The embedded sensor sends signals to a skin patch electrode, which wirelessly transmits information such as vital signs, body position and verification of medication ingestion.

The sensor would be embedded during the drug manufacturing process as a combination drug-device, communicating with the Proteus patch and relevant medical software. If approved, the combination drug-device could be used to tailor medicines more closely to reflect each of our medication-taking patterns and lifestyle choices, Andrew Thompson, Proteus Digital Health CEO said in a statement.

Why It’s HOT: Abilify recently went off patent; therefore, generic versions of the medication are now available. To combat the loss associated with LOE, Otsuka partnered with a digital innovation company to be a first mover of a new offering to their pre-existing market; although, with a new intriguing competitive edge and MOA associated with the digestible sensor. There is no chemical reformulation of the drug; it simply now has innovative utility that is sure to drive HCP script writing in light of the generic form of Abilify being available without the digestible sensor because it has the potential improve patient outcomes which is the desired end goal for all suffering from mental illness.

Source: http://forum.schizophrenia.com/t/edible-microchip-sensor-in-new-proteus-otsuka-abilify/31879