How Your Smartphone Can Help Tell If You're Depressed
Your cell phone--specifically how often and where you use it--can provide clues as to your level of depression, suggests new research published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.
Twenty-eight participants, ages 19 to 58, downloaded an Android app called Purple Robot. The app monitored their locations and how often they used their phones. Participants also completed a questionnaire to gauge depression symptoms. About half of the group did not exhibit depression symptoms, whereas the other half had mild to severe depression symptoms.
Researchers said that when they looked at the phone data results, they were able to predict which participants had symptoms of depression with 87 percent accuracy. Participants with depression symptoms had more arbitrary schedules, spent more time at home and visited fewer locations compared to people without depression symptoms. Participants with symptoms of depression also used their phone more often—about 68 minutes per day—compared to 17 minutes per day for other participants without depression symptoms. However, the app did not record what exactly people were doing when they were on their phones.
While this study was small and more research is needed, these findings may shed more light on what kinds of behavior reflect symptoms of depression.