Depressed? Your Smartphone May Tell

Depressed? Your Smartphone May Tell

The way you use your smartphone may reveal if you are depressed, a new study suggests.

In the study, 28 people ages 19 to 58 downloaded an Android app to their smartphones. The app, called Purple Robot, collected information approximately users' location (using the phone's GPS) & how often they were using their phone, based on whether the screen was on or not.

The participants moreover completed a questionnaire intended to measure their symptoms of depression. About half of the participants had no symptoms of depression, while the other half had symptoms ranging from mild to severe.

p> The researchers found that by using only the data from the participants' phones, they could identify which participants had symptoms of depression with 87 percent accuracy.

The finding that behaviors related to depression can be detected by analyzing data from a phone "opens the possibility of a new generation of behavioral intervention technologies," which could offer support to people or reinforce behaviors that may improve depression, the researchers said.

The researchers moreover found that the people in the study who had symptoms of depression tended to spend more time at home, & visited fewer locations, than those without symptoms of depression. People with symptoms of depression moreover kept schedules that were less regular; for example, they might leave the house for work at a different time each day.

People with depression often experience a lack of motivation or energy to go out & do things, which could partly explain the findings, said study researcher David Mohr, director of the Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. [10 Technologies That Will Transform Your Life]

The study moreover found that people with symptoms of depression moreover used their phones more — approximately 68 minutes a day on average, compared with just 17 minutes a day for people without symptoms of depression.

The app could not tell what people were doing on their phones, yet they were likely surfing the Web or playing games, Mohr said. Such activities may offer a way to avoid thinking approximately painful feelings or difficult relationships, Mohr said.                                                                                             

"This can improve the identification of depression & the ability of healthcare settings to allocate resources to those in need," the researchers wrote in their study.

The researchers noted that the new study is small & more research is needed to confirm the findings.

The study is published today (July 15) in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.                                  

Follow Rachael Ratner @RachaelRettner. Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

10 Fitness Apps: Which Is Best for Your Personality? 9 Odd Ways Your Tech Devices May Injure You 7 Thoughts That Are Bad For You Copyright 2015 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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