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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.

artificial intelligence, nobel prize
“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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Depression, Anxiety Main Reasons Why Children Think About Suicide

The risk of suicide was determined in a personal interview

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

Parents, take note. Depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) are the main reasons why children think about suicide, warn researchers.

The study, published in the journal Archives of Suicide Research, reveals the factors that can trigger ideas of suicide in pre-adolescent age group.

“In boys it is previous depressive symptoms which determine subsequent suicidal ideation, while in girls it is a combination of anxiety symptoms, OCD and the family’s socioeconomic situation,” said Nuria Voltas from Rovira I Virgili University in Spain.

The researchers studied a group of 720 boys and 794 girls who studied in 13 schools in Reus. They were monitored during three developmental periods according to age groups of 10 years, 11 years and 13 years.

Depression, Anxiety, Children
Depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) are the main reasons why children think about suicide, warn researchers. Pixabay

At the beginning of the study, the students answered a series of psychological tests that were used to detect which of them presented emotional symptoms related to depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

From their responses, two groups were created: one group at risk of emotional problems and a control group.

Accpording to the researchers, the figures were quite stable. During the first period, 16 per cent of the students stated that they had thought about suicide, of whom 33 per cent stated the same one year later. In both the second and the third period, ideas of suicide were expressed by 18 per cent of the students surveyed.

The risk of suicide was determined in a personal interview and was present in 12.2 per cent of the children with an average age of 11 years old. Although there were no differences between the sexes, the severity of the suicidal behaviour was greater in boys.

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“Our results will enable us to have greater control over this particular aspect and take preventive measures in pre-adolescents, who are going through a period of considerable vulnerability,” she concluded. (IANS)