What about mood swings? Identifying depression on Twitter with temporal measures of emotions

Depression is among the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders around the world. With the increasing popularity of online social network platforms and the advances in data science, more research efforts have been spent on understanding mental disorders through social media by analysing linguistic style, sentiment, online social networks and other activity traces. However, the role of basic emotions and their changes over time, have not yet been fully explored in extant work. In this paper, we proposed a novel approach for identifying users with or at risk of depression by incorporating measures of eight basic emotions as features from Twitter posts over time, including a temporal analysis of these features. The results showed that emotion-related expressions can reveal insights of individuals’ psychological states and emotions measured from such expressions show predictive power of identifying depression on Twitter. We also demonstrated that the changes in an individual’s emotions as measured over time bear additional information and can further improve the effectiveness of emotions as features, hence, improve the performance of our proposed model in this task.