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Smartphone Helps to Check for Clinical Depression Symptoms

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clinical-depression-symptoms-_watershedWould you trust your phone to tell you whether or not you were suffering from clinical depression?  The science behind smartphone technology has progressed to the point that researchers at Northwestern University now believe these devices could help diagnose clinical depression symptoms.

Clinical Depression Symptoms

A portable device that tracks your location, provides you with internet access, and connects you with others anywhere on the globe is amazing technology by itself.  But if a smartphone could also check for clinical depression symptoms to help provide a diagnosis, then that could be groundbreaking in the fields of science and mental health.

Researchers at Northwestern University recently studied the capabilities of smartphones, and found that usage data could help recognize clinical depression symptoms for individuals.  “Depression has long been diagnosed and evaluated primarily based on patient reports of symptoms,” stated David Mohr, who is a lead author of the study and director of the Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.  “Unlike many other medical problems where there are biomarkers, objective data has not been available. I think what we’re seeing here is that behavior — people’s movement through geographic space or phone usage — can potentially serve as objective data that can inform evaluation of depression.”

The Smartphone Depression Study

The study was conducted with 28 people between the ages of 19 and 58 years old.  Over the course of two weeks, their overall phone use was tracked.  As a result of the study, the research team determined that the more time the individuals spent using their phone, the greater potential they had for being depressed.   One of the habits they observed in this determination was the average depressed person used their phone for an approximate 68 minutes a day, while the average non-depressed individual spent only 17 minutes on their phone.  Another interesting part of the study dealt with the GPS tracking attached to the phones.  When individuals spent a majority of time in their home, they were more likely to show clinical depression symptoms and suffer.

Most people who are suffering from depression often isolate in their homes;  they withdraw from family, friends, and other loved ones.  This is due to feelings of extreme apathy, anhedonia, lack of motivation, and a loss of interest in activities.

When people failed to leave the house and spend time outdoors, they were found to be more depressed.  Researchers also noticed that people who lacked a consistent work schedule showed signs of depression.  Knowing both of these contributed to depression, Sohrob Saeb, another author in the study, mentioned that counteracting clinical depression symptoms may include the individuals getting out more often, maintaining a consistent routine, and restricting their cell phone time.

Professionals believed that since the smartphone study was conducted on such a minimal amount of people, another study should be done that involves more individuals for the most accurate results.  This could play a vital role in checking for symptoms of depression, leading to proper diagnosis, and providing the best treatment possible for people suffering from depression.

“Ultimately we see several potential uses,” concluded Mohr. “One is to monitor people who are at risk, to identify when they are likely to start getting depressed so that they can receive treatment more promptly. Another is that such data may be useful in the context of treatment, to supply information back to treating physicians.”

People who are suffering from depression often self-medicate with alcohol and/or drugs, which may lead to addiction.  Are you struggling with an addiction?  Contact The Watershed for help today.  You don’t have to suffer.




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