Instagram Might Be Good For Your Mental Health

'Some people have adopted Instagram to seek support, find similar others and disclose stigmatised experiences'...


by Danielle Fowler |
Published on

We undoubtedly view a large majority of our day through a camera lens.

Just imagine how many hours we spend carefully re-arranging our breakfast for the perfect aerial snap or how many apps we have downloaded in the hope of finding the filter of all filters. Surely it cannot be good for our wellbeing, and claims that using social media to post everything from #shelfies to selfies can lead to depression are hardly surprising.

But according to new research, using Instagram can actually have a positive impact on users battling depression. In a new study conducted by Drexel University, researchers analysed the responses to a pool of 800 Instagram images tagged with #depression. The images came from a sample of 90,000 photographs posted by 24,920 unique users in one month.

The study’s co-author Dr Andrea Forte told Yahoo Beauty: “If we look at the top 100 tags that occurred together with #depression in our data set, we find terms like #fat #anorexia #beautiful #skinny #bulimic #ugly #thin #starving. When we analysed the posts, we found that images about food and appearance attracted more responses than many other kinds of posts - both negative and positive comments.”

Surprisingly, the positive comments outweighed the negative. The survey’s co-author Nazanin Andalibi explained: “Emotional support and esteem support, which includes comments such as ‘You are strong and beautiful,’ were the most prevalent types of supportive comments. In fact, posts about eating disorders or appearance concerns attracted significantly more comments with esteem support, likely boosting the self-esteem of the poster.”

The social media giant has been working hard to ensure Instagram is a safe environment for those suffering from depression as they recently announced the launch of a new feature designed to enable family and friends to anonymously reports signs of self-harm.

CEO and co-founder Kevin Systrom, highlighted that Instagram is continuing to hard to keep the social media platform ‘positive and safe’ by promoting ‘a culture where everyone feels safe to be themselves without criticism or harassment’.

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