Smartphones Powered By AI Can Diagnose Depression

Smartphones Powered By AI Can Diagnose Depression

A recent study found that smartphones powered by artificial intelligence software can detect symptoms of depression and distress on the user’s face.

The collaborative research by the Dartmouth Department of Computer Science and Geisel School of Medicine in Hanover, Germany, used MoodCapture, a prototype facial recognition application, to test 177 people diagnosed with different mental health conditions.

Results showed that the application has a 75 percent accuracy rate.

One of the lead researchers, Professor Andrew Campbell, told that this technology may be rolled out publicly soon.

“Over the next five years, we will see this technique used in clinical and everyday settings to help people at risk,” he said.

Campbell said the technology has been years in the making, and the improvement of phone cameras has made it easier compared to the early days.

Smartphones Powered By AI Can Diagnose Depression
Professor Nicholas Jacobson who is among the authors, believes this is the beginning of a new era in mental health tech.

Also Read: ChatGPT Improves Mental Health Outcomes But There’s A Catch

Campbell said this technology would be a non-intrusive way of monitoring user wellness, as most already use their faces to unlock their telephones.

According to Statista, an average Gen Z mobile phone user unlocks their phone using their faces an average of 79 times a day.

According to co-author Nicholas Jacobson, the technology may give a more nuanced reflection of a person’s frame of mind than traditional physical therapy sessions.

“Many of our therapeutic interventions for depression are cantered around longer stretches of time, but these folks experience ebbs and flows in their condition. Traditional assessments miss most of what depression is,” said Jacobson, who specializes in the use of AI in mental health management.

There seems to be an appetite for technology that helps manage mental health issues.

Several X users have written posts asking when science will advance to allow the integration of AI in mental health, the same way it has been applied to physical health.

More ground still needs to be covered

However, despite the excitement, there is skepticism around the technology in some spaces.

Dr. Gustavo Medeiros, a psychiatrist at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, told that the sample size of the study was not enough to make conclusive declarations on the role of AI in managing mental health.

He, however, conceded that AI will be part of mental health management in the future. He said scientists go beyond facial signs and include sleep, walking patterns, social media use, and typing.

The world is currently experiencing an AI boom, and researchers are trying to find more ways in which the technology can make lives easier.

If rolled out, this can be a break from the past, where mobile phones and technology have been singled out as one of the major causes of mental health challenges.

Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney, Unsplash.

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