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Learn How to Identify Depression and Anxiety Levels through a Twitter Account

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Figure 1. Twitter User Illustration [7]

As a social media platform that has been launched for quite a long time, since 2006, Twitter still has many loyal users today. In fact, the popularity of Twitter penetrated into the platform – a platform other social media. This is evidenced by the many screenshots nudge and thread from Twitter scattered Instagram accounts, posting Line, to the Facebook page. According to loyal users, the simple features offered by Twitter actually become a special attraction, because they can freely express themselves, express opinions, share stories and experiences, to find new friends without the potential to be mentally burdened because of theirwith other people’s stories or dizzy beautifying feeds like on Instagram.

Because Twitter is one of the digital spaces that allows users to express themselves, it’s no wonder that we can judge other people through tweets, things he often likes and shares, even his profile picture. The research team from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine has tried to investigate the correlation between the quality of photos posted and arranged as profile photos on Twitter with depression and anxiety levels in a person through the approach of computer visual data and artificial intelligence [1] .


Figure 2. Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety [8]

In psychology, depression is defined as a mood disorder or a prolonged emotional condition that affects the process of thinking, feeling, and behaving someone [2] . Depressed individuals show signs of loss of energy and interest, feeling guilty, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, and thinking about committing suicide [3] . Because depression is a long-lasting mood disorder and is susceptible to relapse, early identification and treatment of depressions plays a very important role in preventing the development of more dangerous depressive episode symptoms [3] .

Anxiety ( anxiety ) is an emotional state that has the characteristics of physiological arousal, unpleasant tense feelings, and an comprehensive feeling that something bad will happen [4] . Common symptoms of anxiety include feeling worried, feeling helpless, feeling something dangerous is coming, difficulty breathing, trembling, and feeling weak or tired [5] . Although classified as normal, anxiety that is too often to disrupt daily activities, worsen physical health, and lead to suicidal behavior must be overcome immediately by going to a mental health expert and support from the surrounding environment [5] .

In 2018, the research team from the University of Pennsylvania found that depression can be predicted three months before being diagnosed using artificial intelligence to identify keywords as hinted by social media users [1] . Because currently social media including Twitter, the majority contain image content, it is possible to identify a person’s psychological health condition through the image content for medical purposes. The research team used an algorithm to sort out features, such as colors, facial expressions, and different aesthetic sizes (symmetry, lighting, and sharpness / focus) from photos posted by more than 4,000 Twitter user samples [6]. Then, they analyzed the last 3,200 tweets from each user and conducted a traditional survey of 887 users to find out their depression and anxiety level scores [6] . Next, they connect the score with the selected photo features.

Research presented at the International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media on June 11-14, 2019 in Munich, Germany finally revealed that Twitter users who were depressed and anxious had a tendency to post pictures with lower aesthetic values ​​and fewer striking colors. [1] . Instead, they like to post pictures or photos that have colors with black and white gradations ( grayscale ). When viewed from their profile photo, Twitter users who are depressed and anxious also show a positive emotion suppression in themselves, such as tend to put a flat face rather than showing more negative emotions, such as frowning [1]. In addition, depressed Twitter users are seen posting more photos alone, without family, friends and people around them and rarely posting photos about activities related to their recreation or interests, which are very commonly shown by non-depressed users [6] . According to Sharath Guntuku, PhD, a researcher in the field of digital health at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, who was involved in this study, the reason for the condition is depression is generally accompanied by “flat emotions” which are characterized by reduced expression and attractiveness in hobbies or other activities. which is generally enjoyed by others [6] .

Guntuku, PhD, revealed that the results of his team’s research are far from perfect to be applied in diagnosing depression and anxiety for medical purposes. Nevertheless, the results of this study have the potential to be developed with a more automated version, so that it can be used by health workers at affordable prices to monitor social media user accounts that are suspected of experiencing depression and anxiety with permission from the concerned [1] . If the user of social media shows a high score on the level of depression and anxiety, health workers must direct them to undergo more formal screening methods [6]. This is considered a promising new breakthrough for depression and anxiety screening methods in the digital era as it is today.


[1] Anonymous. 2019. Twitter Image Colors and content Could Help Identify Users With Depression, Anxiety . . Accessed July 11, 2019.

[2] Kaplan, HI, Saddlock, BJ, and Grebb, JA 1997. Synopsis of Psychiatry. Seventh Edition Volume I. Widjaja Kusuma Translation. Jakarta: Bina Rupa Aksara.

[3] Saputri, AR 2017. Relationship between Stress, Anxiety, and Depression Levels with Academic Achievement Levels at Santri Aliyah at Pondok Pesantren Darul Ihsan TGK. H. Hasan Krueng Kalee, Darussalam, Aceh Besar, Aceh. Thesis . Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University. Jakarta.

[4] Nevid, JS, Spencer, AR, and Greene, B.2005. Abnormal Psychology . Fifth Edition Volume I. Jakarta: Erlangga.

[5] Anonymous. 2012. Anxiety: An online lecture material for family members, mental health volunteers and companion nurses . Purworejo: Tirto Jiwo.

[6] Anonymous. 2019. Twitter Image Colors and Content Could Help Identify Users With Depression, Anxiety . . Accessed July 11, 2019.

[7] D’Onfro, J. 2013. Twitter Admits 5% of Its Users are Fake . / 5-of-twitter-monthly-active-users-are-fake-2013-10? IR = T. Accessed July 11, 2019.

[8] Turnbull, L. 2018. Mental Health 201: Anxiety and Depression by Lindsey Turnbull . . Accessed July 11, 2019.

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