Smartphone App Catches Onset of Depression

A smartphone app in development for depression patients tracks contacts and movement and prompts activities when patterns show withdrawal. Katherine Harmon reports.. Is your cell phone ringtone-ing off the vestigial hook? The interruptions may be annoying. But for people with depression, getting a call can help them feel better—especially when they are in the midst of a low day. And therapists often have no way of knowing when their patients are stuck at home in a dark mood.

So researchers at Northwestern University hope to get smart phones to help. They’re developing an app that could monitor the frequency of a person's phone calls, texts and emails. [Michelle Nicole Burns et al, Harnessing Context Sensing to Develop a Mobile Intervention for Depression, Journal of Medical Internet Research]

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