Mood Apps 101

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Dozens of smartphone apps can help monitor your mood, but all require you to manually record how you feel, which can be hard to do accurately and consistently. Now researchers are working on a new type of app that can automatically track a person’s moods by recording and analyzing trends in conversations, movements, or other activities.

One new mood app, Priori, monitors a person’s mood by recording his or her phone calls. It analyzes subtle characteristics of the caller’s speech patterns for signs of the start of a mood episode: Frequent long pauses might indicate depression, and loud, fast speech could be a hallmark of a manic mood. In a pilot study of six people with bipolar disorder, Priori was able to distinguish manic or depressed moods based on an analysis of a person’s speech. A larger study of this app is under way.