Free Press Journal

Your smartphone can help detect bipolar disorder



Washington: Smartphones can accurately detect changes in mood that are indicative of bipolar disorder, a new study suggests. Venet Osmani at the Center for Research and Telecommunication Experimentation for Networked Communities in Trento, Italy, has found that the Behaviour patterns associated with bipolar disorder can be accurately detected by smartphone sensors.

Bipolar disorder is characterised by mood swings that vary from extreme elation to severe depression. These moods can change quickly, last for weeks or months, and be separated by long periods of time, sometimes years. People with bipolar disorder often demonstrate well-known behaviour patterns that are a signature of their condition.

For example, the manic phase is often characterised by hyperactivity, which can be measured by an accelerometer and with a Global Positioning System (GPS) device, by rapid speech, which can be monitored by speech analysis and by frequent conversations, which can be monitored through phone records.

In the new study, Osmani gave smartphones to 12 patients with bipolar disorder and monitored their activity over a period of 12 weeks in 2012 and 2013, ‘MIT Technology Review’ reported. During this time, at three-week intervals each patient visited the clinic, where his or her mental state was determined by conventional methods. This gave a ground-truth reading against which the smartphone data could be compared.

Osmani found that activity and location data together gave a good indication of the patient mood and accurately predicted a change in this mood 94 per cent of the time. Combining this with an analysis of patient phone calls increased the predictive success to over 97 per cent. “One of the important aspects of this work is the possibility of the early detection of changes in a patient’s state with high precision and recall, facilitating timely intervention and thus leading to better treatment outcomes,”  said Osmani.