Phone Therapy Helps Depressed Patients

A Smartphone that Detects Moods

Scientists at Northwestern University, led by psychologist David Mohr, are developing a smartphone which can detect depression in phone users and offer help to improve the user’s mood.

David Mohr thinks of his phones as virtual therapists:

“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.

For example, if someone has not left his house for several days, the phone will know.

“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.

A preliminary phone has already been tested on eight patients, and the results seem to indicate that a phone ‘therapist’ can be a very useful thing, helping to uplift the patients down 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.

Mohr suggested that this type of technology can be a highly cost-effective method for treating depression. More widespread tests are scheduled for this coming summer.

About Jonathon Bowes

Jonathan Bowes started his career in banking. After a few years, he took courses in business and finance and worked his way up the corporate ladder. Today, while writing part-time for Business District, Bowes assists talented people to find jobs in the field of economics. Contact Bowes at Jonathon[at]