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Analyzing Social Media Language Use for Unobtrusive Assessment of Anxiety Symptoms

The researchers highlighted the importance of context-sensitive comparisons in studying the social media language use of individuals with mental health conditions. While previous studies have focused on distinguishing the language use of those with and without mental health conditions, the researchers used within-person analyses to compare individuals' language use when seeking support or discussing neutral topics on Reddit. Specifically, the researchers conducted two dictionary-based analyses by comparing comments made by anxious individuals in anxiety support communities with their comments in neutral communities, and by comparing comments made by members of anxiety subreddits with those made by other users in popular neutral communities.

The researchers found theory-consistent effects as well as unexpected results, which could potentially lead to the development of novel hypotheses in future studies. These findings could be useful for practitioners and researchers who aim to unobtrusively assess anxiety symptoms in conversations that are not explicitly about mental health. By analyzing the language use of individuals in various contexts, the researchers provided insights into the complexities of social media language use, and its potential to aid in the detection of mental health conditions.


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