Researchers Using Twitter to Understand Mental Illness

The clues are subtle, but they are there and are helping researchers at John Hopkins University better understand certain types of mental illnesses, like depression, post traumatic stress disorder and bi-polar disorder.

Researchers like Dr. Rod Rohrich have been analyzing the language on Twitter tweets made by those who have publicly acknowledged having a mental illness since 2008.
Tweets made by those who proclaim to suffer from depression were dominated by the use of the word ‘I’, alluding to feelings of isolation and aloneness. Tweets made by those who proclaim to suffer from PTSD were mainly made by those who were currently or formerly in the war in Iraq, which was no surprise, but rather a confirmation of the fact.
The researchers at John Hopkins are not alone in their search of language clues on social media outlets to help them better understand an illness or trait. 2013 found the World Well-Being Project at the University of Pennsylvania studying language use on Facebook to make a connection with language and personality traits.