Tuesday November 19, 2019
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Novel AI Tool to Detect Depression Via Sound of Your Voice

Such a tool could prove useful to support work with care providers or to help individuals reflect on their own moods over time

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Depression is a major issue affecting millions of people, especially the teenagers. Pixabay

India — the sixth most depressed country in the world — has an estimated 56 million people suffering from depression and 38 million from anxiety disorders, according to a recent report by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

To help identify depression early, scientists have now enhanced a technology that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to sift through sound of your voice to gauge whether you are depressed or not.

Computing science researchers from University of Alberta in Canada have improved technology for identifying depression through vocal cues.

The study, conducted by Mashrura Tasnim and Professor Eleni Stroulia, builds on past research that suggests that the timbre of our voice contains information about our mood.

Using standard benchmark data sets, Tasnim and Stroulia developed a methodology that combines several Machine Learning (ML) algorithms to recognize depression more accurately using acoustic cues.

A realistic scenario is to have people use an app that will collect voice samples as they speak naturally.

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“Artificial intelligence is now one of the fastest-growing areas in all of science and one of the most talked-about topics in society.” VOA

“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,” said Stroulia.

Depression is ranked by WHO as the single largest contributor to global disability. It is also the major contributor to suicide deaths.

The ultimate goal, said researchers, is to develop meaningful applications from this technology.

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Such a tool could prove useful to support work with care providers or to help individuals reflect on their own moods over time.

“This work, developing more accurate detection in standard benchmark data sets, is the first step,” added Stroulia while presenting the paper at the Canadian Conference on Artificial Intelligence recently. (IANS)

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40% Parents Struggle to see Depression Signs in Kids: Study

Most parents also believe schools should play a role in identifying potential depression, with seven in 10 supporting depression screening starting in middle school, the study said

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In boys it is previous depressive symptoms which determine subsequent suicidal ideation. Pixabay

Telling the difference between a teen’s normal ups and downs or something bigger is among the top challenges parents face while identifying depression among the youth, says a new study.

Forty per cent of parents struggle to differentiate between normal mood swings and signs of depression, while 30 per cent are tricked as their child hides his/her feelings well, according to a new national poll in the US.

The C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at the University of Michigan, is based on responses from 819 parents with at least one child in middle school, junior high, or high school.

“In many families, the preteen and teen years bring dramatic changes both in youth behaviour and in the dynamic between parents and children,” said poll co-director Sarah Clark.

“These transitions can make it particularly challenging to get a read on children’s emotional state and whether there is possible depression,” Clark added.

According to the researchers, some parents might be overestimating their ability to recognise depression in the mood and behaviour of their own child.

An overconfident parent may fail to pick up on the subtle signals that something is amiss.

suicide, world, deaths, study
Depression is among the leading causes of disability in the U.S. and is being closely monitored by health authorities amid rising suicides nationwide. Pixabay

The poll also suggests that the topic of depression is all too familiar for middle and high school students.

One in four parents say their child knows a peer or classmate with depression, and one in 10 say their child knows a peer or classmate who has died by suicide.

This level of familiarity with depression and suicide is consistent with recent statistics showing a dramatic increase in suicide among US youth over the past decade.

Rising rates of suicide highlight the importance of recognising depression in youth.

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Compared to the ratings of their own ability, parents polled were also less confident that their preteens or teens would recognise depression in themselves.

“Parents should stay vigilant on spotting any signs of potential depression in kids, which may vary from sadness and isolation to anger, irritability and acting out,” said Clark.

Most parents also believe schools should play a role in identifying potential depression, with seven in 10 supporting depression screening starting in middle school, the study said. (IANS)