One of the most powerful ways of improving the outcomes of psychiatric treatment for depression is mood tracking, but for many reasons keeping detailed and daily records of mood changes is difficult and relatively few people in treatment use this technique.
We’ve written before about significant evidence that suggests that smartphones can provide data automatically that can be used to assess mood changes:
- Information about the length and number of email messages and other types of posts online correlates with mania or depression.
- Activity logs also correlate with mania or depression: not just the number of steps but also how active a person is when not engaged in physical exercise.
- Sleep logs similarly can be used to track mood changes.
- Sophisticated programs are also being developed to track the content of messages looking for keywords suggesting anxiety, depression, euphoria, etc.
All of this is both exciting and anxiety provoking (if you’re concerned about the privacy implications of tracking this kind of information).
We have been following the progress of a small startup, Health Rhythms, that is working on using this information to improve health outcomes.
Their blog post provides a sense of what might be possible in the near future.
The founders have also been involved in research (an area that has not received as much effort as has application development) – see articles in the References section.
For More Information
Sleep Apps Reviewed by the New York Times
Self-monitoring practices, attitudes, and needs of individuals with bipolar disorder: implications for the design of technologies to manage mental health.