Detecting Reddit Users with Depression Using a Hybrid Neural Network

by   Ziyi Chen, et al.

Depression is a widespread mental health issue, affecting an estimated 3.8 of the global population. It is also one of the main contributors to disability worldwide. Recently it is becoming popular for individuals to use social media platforms (e.g., Reddit) to express their difficulties and health issues (e.g., depression) and seek support from other users in online communities. It opens great opportunities to automatically identify social media users with depression by parsing millions of posts for potential interventions. Deep learning methods have begun to dominate in the field of machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) because of their ease of use, efficient processing, and state-of-the-art results on many NLP tasks. In this work, we propose a hybrid deep learning model which combines a pretrained sentence BERT (SBERT) and convolutional neural network (CNN) to detect individuals with depression with their Reddit posts. The sentence BERT is used to learn the meaningful representation of semantic information in each post. CNN enables the further transformation of those embeddings and the temporal identification of behavioral patterns of users. We trained and evaluated the model performance to identify Reddit users with depression by utilizing the Self-reported Mental Health Diagnoses (SMHD) data. The hybrid deep learning model achieved an accuracy of 0.86 and an F1 score of 0.86 and outperformed the state-of-the-art documented result (F1 score of 0.79) by other machine learning models in the literature. The results show the feasibility of the hybrid model to identify individuals with depression. Although the hybrid model is validated to detect depression with Reddit posts, it can be easily tuned and applied to other text classification tasks and different clinical applications.


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