Smartphone Use Links To Depression Diagnosis, Says Researchers

Smartphone Use Links To Depression Diagnosis, Says Researchers
Depression please cut to the chase darcyadelaide / Flickr CC BY 2.0

Researchers at Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University found a link between the use of smartphone and depression diagnosis. With the onslaught of tablets and smartphones, a lot of individuals rely on such devices to monitor their health, including monitoring their daily calories, the number of steps made and quality of sleep.


Although the team agreed theirs was not the first conducted linking depression to smartphone usage, they nevertheless claim their research was the first to suggest that smartphone can be used as a passive tool to diagnose and help treat depression, the Daily Times Gazette reports.

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According to researchers, people who are depressed spend more time doing something on their smartphones or “spend most of their time at home or at fewer locations” than non-depressed people.

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Sohrob Saeb, study’s lead author said “all this data can easily b e collected by the phones themselves, and it can be used to help researchers studying depression, doctors treating it and patients suffering from it.”

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In coming up with their finding, the researchers a used specially-designed mobile app in tracking down 28 smartphones of subject-participants for two weeks. All participants were also asked to complete standardized questionnaire to help them diagnose depression. The researchers found that half of the subjects did not manifest “any symptoms of depression, while half had symptoms ranging from mild to severe.”

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Data suggested that people who are depressed use their gadgets at an average of 68 minutes a day and non-depressed people only use their phones at an average of 17 minutes a day.

Researchers also contended the phone’s GPS tracking tool was helpful in giving clues to depression. They added that people who visit fewer locations or spend most of their time at home are more likely to develop depression. Moreover, individuals who have “less regular day-to-day schedule” each day was associated with depressive symptoms.

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The study’s senior author David Mohr, who is also a director at Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies at Feinberg School of Medicine, was quoted by Daily Times Magazine, saying “the data showing depressed people tended no to go many places reflects the loss of motivation seen in depression.”

“When people are depressed, they tend to withdraw and don’t have the motivation or energy to go out and do things,” Mohr added.