YOUR PHONE KNOWS IF YOU ARE DEPRESSED





Depression is a huge global problem, millions of people every year suffer from mental disorders and yet they can be incredibly difficult to diagnose. Symptoms can vary massively from person to person, some people experience severe fatigue, insomnia, a lack of self-care along with more obvious markers like suicidal thoughts and self-harm.

No two cases are exactly the same and diagnosing the disorder and treating it can take a long time.

surgeon and nurse

Doctors are, obviously, the most equipped to diagnose these problems and to direct you to the right method of treatment. You cannot be with your doctor at all times though, and some symptoms can go undetected for a long time.

What if someone or something could be with us at all time and also provide an accurate diagnosis?

phone

In a recent study at Stanford University, scientists fed information like facial expressions and voice tones into smartphone AI. Half of the data was from a clinically depressed patient and the other half of the data was from someone perfectly healthy.

It was found that in 80% of cases, smartphone AI could identify which data belonged to the person with depression.

These experiments are still in the early stages but, if they could roll this out to the general public, it could save thousands of lives.

doctor

Perhaps, we could also extend the technology to (if requested by the user) share the details with our medical practitioners. When I experienced a serious depressive episode early in 2017, the most difficult part of getting help was admitting the problem.

I felt embarrassed (though I realise now that there is absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about) and it took a long time for me to ask for help. Sending our data and potential diagnosis over to our doctors would take this difficulty out of the equation entirely. Let the doctors receive the raw data and interpret what it means.

Equally, male suicide rates have always been higher than the rates of female suicide. It has been suggested that this is because of the difficulty some men experience when talking about how they feel. We could remove this conversation from the equation entirely.

depressed

This technology is not at a stage yet where this is possible. Hopefully, soon it will be. Until then though, seek help if you are experiencing any difficulties with your mental health.

There is no problem that is too embarrassing to discuss with your doctor. They have heard it all before.


And, just in case you needed to hear this today: you are important, your life adds value to this world and people do care. 

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