Depression risk prediction for Chinese microblogs via deep learning methods (Preprint)
JMIR Medical Informatics
Depression is a serious personal and public mental health problem. Self-reporting is the main method used to diagnose depression and to determine the severity of depression. However, it is not easy to discover patients with depression owing to feelings of shame in disclosing or discussing their mental health conditions with others. Moreover, self-reporting is time-consuming, and usually leads to missing a certain number of cases. Therefore, automatic discovery of patients with depression from
... her sources such as social media has been attracting increasing attention. Social media, as one of the most important daily communication systems, connects large quantities of people, including individuals with depression, and provides a channel to discover patients with depression. In this study, we investigated deep-learning methods for depression risk prediction using data from Chinese microblogs, which have potential to discover more patients with depression and to trace their mental health conditions. The aim of this study was to explore the potential of state-of-the-art deep-learning methods on depression risk prediction from Chinese microblogs. Deep-learning methods with pretrained language representation models, including bidirectional encoder representations from transformers (BERT), robustly optimized BERT pretraining approach (RoBERTa), and generalized autoregressive pretraining for language understanding (XLNET), were investigated for depression risk prediction, and were compared with previous methods on a manually annotated benchmark dataset. Depression risk was assessed at four levels from 0 to 3, where 0, 1, 2, and 3 denote no inclination, and mild, moderate, and severe depression risk, respectively. The dataset was collected from the Chinese microblog Weibo. We also compared different deep-learning methods with pretrained language representation models in two settings: (1) publicly released pretrained language representation models, and (2) language representation models further pretrained on a large-scale unlabeled dataset collected from Weibo. Precision, recall, and F1 scores were used as performance evaluation measures. Among the three deep-learning methods, BERT achieved the best performance with a microaveraged F1 score of 0.856. RoBERTa achieved the best performance with a macroaveraged F1 score of 0.424 on depression risk at levels 1, 2, and 3, which represents a new benchmark result on the dataset. The further pretrained language representation models demonstrated improvement over publicly released prediction models. We applied deep-learning methods with pretrained language representation models to automatically predict depression risk using data from Chinese microblogs. The experimental results showed that the deep-learning methods performed better than previous methods, and have greater potential to discover patients with depression and to trace their mental health conditions.