Researchers at the University of Michigan are developing an app to help monitor the moods of people with bipolar disorder, National Public Radio (NPR) reports. Dr. Melvin McInnis hopes that someday his smartphone app will be able to track a user's speech patterns to accurately predict when a manic or depressive episode is on the horizon.
Patients who are entering a manic state of mind often speak more rapidly with more dramatic vocal inflections, while those sinking into a depressed state tend to talk slowly, with less energy and longer pauses. The app would collect recordings of telephone calls made by the user and process them through a computer program. The software would analyze the data to flag when a user appears to be at a high risk of experiencing a manic or depressive episode.
"The importance of detecting [episodes] well in advance is that [subjects] reach a point where their insight is compromised, so they don't feel themselves that anything is wrong," McInnis told NPR. "It occurred to me a number of years ago that monitoring speech patterns would be a really powerful way to devise some kind of an approach to have the ability to predict when an episode is imminent."
McInnis is working with computer scientists to develop the smartphone app, which is still in its early stages. He says that so far the team has made progress in anticipating manic episodes, although the technology seems less adept at spotting imminent depression. McInnis presented some tentative results at the 2014 International Conference on Acoustics, Speech and Signal Processing. He says he is optimistic about the research and the app's long-term potential.
While such monitoring technology could be constructive for people who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, many Americans don't even know they have the condition. They often attempt to self-regulate their symptoms with legal and illegal drugs and alcohol, developing substance abuse problems that become the primary focus of their healthcare providers. For this reason, too many people who have bipolar disorder are treated for their addictions but not their underlying cause. A person suffering from alcoholism and bipolar disorder can never truly recover from the former if the latter is not also diagnosed and addressed.
Dr. M.K. (Khal) El-Yousef founded Fairwinds Treatment Center in 1989 with the express purpose of helping patients address their substance abuse problems while also uncovering and treating previously undiagnosed conditions like depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. This inclusive, dual diagnosis approach paves the way for lasting recovery.
If you believe that your loved one requires treatment for mental illness, substance abuse and/or disordered eating, there is no better facility to help them than Fairwinds Treatment Center in Clearwater, Florida. For more information, contact us today at (727) 449-0300.