Smartphones found to detect depression: Study

Smartphones can detect depressionAs technology advances, it seems there’s nothing our Smartphones can’t do. No longer just for making phone calls, they are our all-in-one personal assistant. New research has now found that our phones even know when we’re depressed.

A small, Northwestern Medicine study reveals that our phones can detect when we’re depressed. By tracking usage as well as location, our phones can determine when we are depressed say the researchers.


The findings revealed those who were depressed typically used their phones for up to 68 minutes a day – this in comparison with non-depressed people who only use their phones for 17 minutes a day.

With the help of GPS tracking, those who are depressed spend most of their time at home. People who are not depressed will visit more locations.

The phone sensor allowed researchers to identify those with depression with 87 percent accuracy.

“The significance of this is we can detect if a person has depressive symptoms and the severity of those symptoms without asking them any questions,” said study author David Mohr.

“We now have an objective measure of behavior related to depression. And we’re detecting it passively. Phones can provide data unobtrusively and with no effort on the part of the user.”

This type of monitoring can help for quicker intervention and earlier treatment for those with depression. Furthermore, it was uncovered that the Smartphone monitoring was more affective at diagnosis than simply asking individual’s questions.


When people are asked questions they are usually expected to rate their feelings on a scale from one to 10. Researchers say answers may be unreliable based on this method.

The findings will be published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.


Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.


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