Your phone can tell if you are depressed: Study

Your phone can tell if you are depressed

Photo: Imagesbazaar

People who heavily use cell phones and computers complain more about sleep disturbances, stress and other mental health issues leading to depression. In a startling revelation, scientists have found a way to determine what state of mind you are in based on your cell phone use. Scientists can accurately predict whether a person is likely to display symptoms of depression depending on how much he or she uses smartphone, and using the data on it to analyze how often he went out.

A recent study published in the Journal of Medical Research says your phone can tell if you are depressed, which means if you are spending more time on your phone then you are prone to depression. A second analysis that looked at how people move through time and space showed stronger correlations.

According to researchers from Northwestern University, smartphone sensor data can detect depression by tracking the amount of minutes a person uses their phone per day, as well as how often they change their geographical location.

Researchers at the Northwestern University conducted a small study where they looked at smartphone “sensor data” to help recognize whether users were depressed. From the results, they found that by reviewing users’ total phone use, the number of locations visited according to the smartphone’s GPS and the daily schedule recorded by this tracking over two weeks, they could accurately predict which smartphone users in the experiment experienced symptoms of depression 86% of the time.

According to the data, users who did not have symptoms of depression generally had around 17 minutes of usage every day. Those who displayed symptoms of depression clocked an average of 68 minutes.

“The data showing depressed people tended not to go many places reflects the loss of motivation seen in depression,”senior author David Mohr, director of the Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said in a press release.

Using the GPS data, it was found that those smartphone owners who did not go out of their homes very often had a greater likelihood of being depressed. Users without a regular recurring routine also leaned towards having depressive behaviour.

According to the report, this analysis of phone data “was more reliable in detecting depression” than the standardized questionnaire that the 28 participants were made to answer. While the study acknowledges that the results “must be replicated in a larger study among participants with confirmed clinical symptoms”, the findings could point to a unique, unobtrusive method to help diagnose depression in individuals in the future.

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