Smartphones can already do a lot of things that we never imagined our mobile phones would be able to do a while ago. They can tell you how many calories you’ve burnt, they can talk to you and check your fingerprints.
Now it seems that they can predict your mental state as well, in a very easy and fast way. Basically, they can show whether or not you are depressed, judging by the amount of time you spend using them and by the places you visit every day.
A team of researchers from the Northwestern University came to the conclusion that people who have the tendency to spend more time on their mobile device might be more than depressed than those who don’t.
Thus, it was revealed that a depressed person might spend an average time of 68 minutes on his or her phone, while a person who is not depressed would only spend about 17 minutes every day on it .
Location is also an important decisive factor in establishing whether a person is depressed or not. If an individual tends to spend a large amount of time at home or in very few locations every day, it is an indicator that he or she does not have a very social life . Monitoring the location can be easily done with GPS.
Moreover, not having a regular daily schedule might be associated to depression as well.
Some of these might sound surprising, but the researchers looked at the amount of time 28 smartphone users spent hooked on their phones and at their GPS locations. After analyzing these parameters, they were able to identify depressed people with an accuracy of 87 percent after monitoring them for two weeks.
“We now have an objective measure of behaviour related to depression. And we’re detecting it passively. Phones can provide data unobtrusively and with no effort on the part of the user,” said David Mohr, who is the lead study author and the director of the Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies, from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
What was even more interesting was that the accuracy for detecting depression was even higher than the one provided by questionnaires in which people had to rate how they were feeling.
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