File image: Pexels Pictures posted on social media can be dictated for depression

PICTURES posted on social media can be used to predict if someone is depressed.

Psychologists say photographs placed online contain several indicators of potential depression.

If they are darker, more likely to be black and white, and feature fewer people, the pictures may suggest sufferers are retreating from social contact.

More obviously, a so-called ‘sadness selfie’ would highlight that someone was struggling.

Warning signs were identified in 43,950 images taken from picture-sharing site Instagram. A computer program trained to diagnose depression from the images was correct 70 per cent of the time, a study led by Harvard University and Dr Christopher Danforth, of Vermont University, found.

In contrast, a British study found GPs pick up depression accurately in only 42 per cent of cases.

The study, published in open access journal EPJ Data Science, concluded that social media could be used to diagnose people with mental health problems earlier.

© Daily Mail