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The Link between Smartphones and Depression

According to a new study your smartphone can spot with 87% accuracy whether you suffer from depression.

If you are expecting to read about a new smartphone that is able to read your thoughts while you are using it, think again. The findings from a recent study done by researchers at the Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine showed that with user participation the early signs of depression can be spotted and treated. According to David Mohr, the director of the department and part of the research team, your phone is in a position to track your mood, health and several other psychological changes you might be experiencing. How exactly can your phone accomplish this? By monitoring software of course.

The research team gathered 28 people from Craigslist who were willing to participate. Aged between 18 and 56, the participants had to answer a list of questions in order to see how many of them suffered from depressive symptoms. As it turned out, half of them showed characteristics for depression. The rest of the study, which lasted two weeks, was solely focused on monitoring the time they spent on their phones along with tracking the places they go. They also received several questions a day through an app, asking them about their mood at that particular moment.

The conclusion of the study showed that people who spend more time on their phones are prone to be more depressed. In fact, a depressed person will roughly spend about 68 minutes on his or her phone within a 24 hour cycle, whereas non-depressive individuals average about 17 minutes. The research team also took into account the amount of time the participants spent in one place. Interestingly enough, they got bored answering the questions after a couple of days and most of the information came from their movement within a geographical space. Combined with the amount of phone usage they were able to gather important feedback.

Thanks to the tracking system it was concluded that people who spend a lot of time in one or two places also suffer from depression to a degree. In other words, people who only move between their homes and their place of work. Individuals who follow a regular pattern of movement tend to be happier, seeing as depression has a way of breaking down the will to perform certain task or to simply move around, period. As stated by the leaders of this study, everything is still in a test phase, but the results are very motivating. The aim is to catch depression before it develops and they believe this method might be the answer.

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