Your smartphone can detect depression by analyzing how much time you spend on it and your location, a new study claims.
Scientists at the Northwestern University discovered that the more time you use your phone, the likelier you are to be depressed. The daily use for depressed people was around 68 minutes on average, while non-depressed people used their phones for just around 17 minutes.
Spending most of the time inside your home and in other few locations is also connected to depression. This is measured by Global Positioning System tracking. Having a schedule that isn’t so regular, leaving your home and going to your job at various times every day, for instance, is also connected to depression.
Scientists analyzed the locations gathered by the GPS and the usage of smartphones from 28 people over a period of two weeks. There were eight males and 20 females in the study. The sensor monitored the locations with the help of the GPS once every five minutes. The scientists were able to identify people with symptoms of depression with an accuracy of 87 percent just by analyzing the data from their mobile phones.
David Mohr, the senior author of the study and director at the Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies from the Northwest University Feinberg School of Medicine said that this is very significant as they are able to detect if a person shows signs of depressive symptoms and their severity without having to ask the patients any questions. He said that they now possess an objective measure which they can use to detect behavior connected to depression. The great thing about it is that they have the ability to detect this passively. The mobile phones of the patients can give data with no effort from the user and completely unobtrusively.
The data gathered from the smartphones was able to detect depression more reliably than questions answered by the participants about how the feel regarding their depression on a scale. The lead author of the study, Sohrob Saeb, computer scientist and postdoctoral in preventive medicine at Feinberg said that the answers given by the patients can often be unreliable and rote.
Mohr said that the data gathered showed how depressed people tended to go to less places and this shows a lack of motivation which is generally seen in depression. He added that when individuals suffer from depression they have a tendency to withdraw and don’t show energy or motivation to do things and go out.
The data from the mobile phones didn’t show how the people were using their devices but Mohr believes that individuals who spent huge amounts of time on their phones usually surf the web and play games, and not talk to their friends.
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