Many people are attached to their mobile phones that researchers are trying to figure out a connection that can tell about health and mood. In fact, a phone may be able to tell whether its owner is depressed and this seems to be better that self-assessment. This is a new study that was published in Journal of Medical Internet Research.
According to David Mohr one of the authors of the study and director of the Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, the more that people spend with their phones, the more likely that they will become depressed. Researchers also found out that spending lots of time at home is linked to depression and phone data could predict with 87% accuracy if someone has symptoms of depression.
28 people ranging from 19 to 58 years old were recruited by Northwestern researchers from Craigslist and integrated location and usage monitoring software on their smartphones. At the start of the study, the subjects took a standardized questionnaire that measured depressive symptoms and the results revealed that ½ has symptoms of depression while the other half did not have any. For two weeks, the phones tracked the GPS location information every five minutes and pinged the users with questions regarding their mood several times a day.
The phone data that were collected by the researchers were rich and it included information like the places the participants visited each day, the amount of time they spent in the places visited and how often they used their phones. The researches collated the data with the depression test scores. One of the things that researchers found out is people do not answer questions. They may respond for a few days and then get tired of it.
People who tend to spend more time in just one or two places are more likely to have high depression scores. People who stuck to a regular pattern of movement tend to be less depressed. The data that was derived from the phones were very useful in tracking depression without the need for the user to report what he is feeling. This is usually the barrier to depression treatment.