According to scientists, depression can be diagnosed with a simple smartphone app.
Researchers from the prestigious Faculty of Medicine from Northwestern University have discovered a simple way to diagnose depression without asking the patient a single question.
They only need to know how much you use your smartphone every day and to keep track of your day to day movement to different locations, because this could indicate if you are showing signs of depression.
They point out that depressed people rely on their smartphones whenever they feel sad because these can take their minds of their troubles. Social media plays an important role in this, because it keeps people entertained.
However, it is still social media that has been previously associated with depression, in the sense that people might get the impression that everybody is having the time of their lives around them, leaving them feeling sad that they cannot post similar happy things.
Facebook and Twitter posts generally feature people posing for their pages with their happiest faces and they might give out the impression that they are having a much better time that they actually are. Although people know this, they sometime get overwhelmed by the multitude of such posts and end up feeling that their life is somehow less exciting than it should be.
And this actually leads to even more time spent on a smartphone, because will constantly be looking for people who might be feeling as they are. The difference between prolonged PC use and prolonged smartphone use is that depressed people escape to their virtual universe even when they should be interacting with their friends and loved ones.
Tracking people’s movement gives the scientists information on just how much people are willing to leave their homes to go out and get involved in different activities. Previous research links depression with the lack of initiative to go out. Depressed people generally want to spend their time alone in their homes, where they are not forced to make conversation and interact with different people.
The scientists from Northwestern University have tested their smartphone theory on 28 people. They gave them the standard test for depression, so that they could have generally accepted assessment results that could give weight to their study.
Then, for the next two weeks, the 28 subjects had their smartphone tracked and at the end the results of the smartphone test were actually the same as the ones of the standard test. Therefore, their method seems to be reliable.
However, this is only a project for the time being, but it has the potential of actually getting implemented as a diagnosis test in the future because it represents a very simple method of keeping track of people’s depression levels.
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