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Researchers Develop Smart Phone Technology To Sense Depression

CHICAGO (CBS) — Researchers at Northwestern University are developing a smart phone that can sense whether you’re falling victim to depression.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports, psychologist David Mohr has been adapting phones as a virtual therapist for patients prone to depression.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports

“We’re trying to develop individual algorithms for each user that can determine specific states, so their location where they are, their activity, their social context, who they’re with, what they’re engaged in, and their mood,” Mohr said.

That way, if someone is sitting at home for days on end feeling depressed, the phone could sense it.

“It can provide them an automated text message, or an automated phone call to make a suggestion to give somebody a call or get out of the house,” Mohr said.

Dr. Mohr says tests with eight patients so far, have shown that the phone “therapist,” has been helpful in lifting their moods.

“They all had a major depressive disorder when they started, and they were all both clinically and statistically better at the end of the treatment,” he said.

Dr. Mohr said the technology could offer more cost-effective ways to treat depression. He plans more widespread tests this summer.

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