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New AI Tool Uses Voice To Diagnose Depression

Medical Daily logo Medical Daily 17/7/2019 Darwin Malicdem

Depression affect millions of people in different parts of the world. It can be a serious medical illness that could affect how a person feels, thinks and acts. But diagnosis may become easier and faster soon. 

Depression causes sadness, loss of interest in activities and other emotional and physical problems. , according to the National Institute of Mental Health. 

The mental condition affects anyone from children, teenagers to adults. Even Hollywood stars and artists battled depression, including Adele, Beyonce, Cara Delevingne, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jim Carrey, J.K. Rowling, Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus.

Estimates show that up to one million people commit suicide every year around the world because of depression. Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington is among the recent victims of the mental illness. 

The musician talked about his battle with depression before he took his life in 2017. After Bennington’s death, his family tried to raise awareness about the condition and how challenging it was to see signs before it becomes severe. 

Health experts said that some people with depression struggle or refuse to get diagnosed. This makes it hard for healthcare providers to offer treatments. 

But diagnosis may soon be easier. Researchers from the University of Alberta developed a new artificial intelligence-based tool that can “accurately detect depressed mood” by recording the person’s voice. 

The technology, described in the Advances in Artificial Intelligence, uses previous data that the sound of the voice shares information about a person’s mood. The researchers used standard benchmark data sets and new AI algorithms to recognize depression by analyzing acoustic cues.

"A realistic scenario is to have people use an app that will collect voice samples as they speak naturally,” the researchers said in a statement. “The app, running on the user's phone, will recognize and track indicators of mood, such as depression, over time. Much like you have a step counter on your phone, you could have a depression indicator based on your voice as you use the phone."

The team hopes their tool would soon support healthcare providers in diagnosing depression and treating patients. The condition is among the most treatable of mental disorders. 

a close up of a mans face in a dark room © Pixabay

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