Diagnosing depression has typically involved studying our behavior offline, such as our mannerisms or body language. But a recent study out of Missouri University of Science and Technology suggests that how individuals behave on the internet could also indicate help diagnose depression.
The research, which polled 216 college students and was conducted last February, monitored individual Internet use and correlated specific web browsing patterns with high scores on a scale used to identify depressive symptoms.
Researchers used Cisco NetFlow to track and log exactly which sites students were visiting and for how long. Students were then asked to take a survey with embedded questions used to identify depression markers. However, students were not informed of the study's purpose -- to monitor depression levels in relation to browsing habits.
Researchers found that students who scored high on surveys for depressive symptoms followed similar patterns of Internet usage. Excessing chatting, frequent switching between applications and frequent email checking were found to be associated with respondents who demonstrated symptoms of depression, according to the study.