Out of the multitude of apps and practical uses, a new study claims that time spent on smartphones could diagnose depression through measuring activity. Phones are now a significant part of our lives, an every-day accessory that we carry with us wherever we go.
It’s no longer a simple means of communication and it’s varied functionality has likely deemed it the most popular gadget worldwide. Watches have mostly become jewelry and little else because of it, alarm clocks don’t belt out soothing songs, calendars have limited amount of space for post-it notes and internet is seemingly vital for our every day lives.
A person’s phone can tell quite a lot about them, from the way it’s maintained, pictures stored, taste in music or general interests. Researchers at Northwestern University have found a way that it might also tell if the user is suffering from depression.
On average, they have discovered that non-depressed people spend 17 minutes on their phone per day, while those with depression have a much bigger rate of around 68 minutes per day. The gap is quite obvious, though there has been no number mentioned on where the line is drawn.
The study was conducted on 28 participants, more accurately 20 women and 8 men. Their phones were both tracked for time spent active and location on where its user was travelling. With the use of GPS, the participants agreed to have their movements tracked every five minutes for a duration of two weeks.
At the end of the study, it was observed that half of the volunteers showed signs of either mild or severe depression according to the time spent on their phones. The accuracy of properly detecting it was at an excellent 87%, meaning that the majority of cases were not only spending more time on their phones than the others, but were medically diagnosed with depression.
The average time spent on their phones was substantially bigger and, through the GPS, researchers have discovered that they were much less prone to outings and remained engaged in routines, another sign linked to depression.
The study is one meant for prevention. Perhaps signs could be caught early on and prevent any grave consequences of undetected and untreated clinical depression by tracking phone activity. Treatment could be provided more quickly.
The advantage of the study is that it completely eliminates subjective factors that patients might be dishonest about and deny when asked to describe the satisfaction with their own lives from a scale from 1 to 10.
Data collected provides unobstructed, purely objective facts about the person’s life that might lead to an early diagnosis, which could prevent the usual symptoms or, the more tragic consequences, such as suicide.
While the study has struck well on certain points, researchers also mentioned that they only tracked the activity in regards to time, not content. Meaning that participants were not monitored on what they were doing, whether playing games, browsing the internet or talking to their friends. And, yet, the study’s accuracy remains promising for future diagnosing.
Image source: trbimg.com