Instagram Filters: A Sign of Depression?

instagram filters

Instagram has become the social media hot-spot; poised, perfectly posed and oh yes, filtered…

It can be tricky to decide on “Gingham”, “Valencia” or “Willow”, yet even more so to guess what a person’s life is actually like. Instagram filters… are they a sign of depression?

Well, according to a recent study, what you post on Instagram – from filters you use to the number of comments you receive – says a lot about your mental health.

The study from researchers at Harvard and University of Vermont analyzes over 44,000 Instagram photos from 166 people.

A software program analyzes differences between depressed and non-depressed users’ Instagram accounts. It measured brightness and the number of faces in each photo to determine what qualities were common.

Users with confirmed depression tended to post blue, darker and more faded images, but when they did they favored “Inkwell” over any other. “Crema”, “Willow” and “Reyes” are also used.  In addition, depressed users were less likely to post group shots.

Users without depression got more likes, while depressed users got more comments. The researchers discover the more comments a post receives, the more likely it is posted by a depressed participant.

Okay, now wait a minute! I started scrolling through my own Instagram filters and realized that I use “Inkwell” quite a bit. Does that mean I’m depressing? No. It means that I like that filter!  So, before diagnosing your friends and looking for clues, check the second analysis of the study.

A group of participants rates the photos on a one to five scale based on how sad, happy or likable they were. Well, human beings turned out to be less unreliable than the software program.  Despite these findings, we shouldn’t diagnose if someone is depressed or not by the Instagram filters they are using.

It is interesting however, to learn the type of research that’s taking place in our Ivy League schools! The need to connect with pop culture or just be seen takes us to weird places I suppose. What do you think?




Archuleta Chisolm

Senior Writer

Archuleta is a brave soul without wings. She is a self-published author of three books, poet, freelancer, speaker, pen junkie, and U.S. Army veteran. She has a passion for encouraging women to be the best version of themselves. Made in Kansas City, Living in Houston.