After a study showed that unhappy people have a different tone while speaking, the therapists have started to pick up signs of depression just by listening to how patients talk.
It was found by the researchers that the vocal features became more gravelly, hoarse and less fluent as the feelings of depression get worse.
The researchers are hoping that their findings will let the doctors and psychotherapists diagnose when people are feeling low, even when they claim to be happy.
The researchers also wish to develop an app that can record a patient’s voice pattern which will be checked over time to spot the onset of depression.
The acoustician Dr Carol Espy-Wilson from University of Maryland said that this technology will be of great help to teenagers and young adults who may be suffering from depression but rarely seek any help.
She said "their emotions are all over the place during this time, and that's when they're really at risk for depression.
"We have to reach out and figure out a way to help kids in that stage."
In a 2007 study, six patients took part who were examined to investigate the link between depression and speech patterns.
The depression levels were measured each week using Hamilton Depression Scale, which is a standard clinical evaluation tool used to measure the severity of depression.
In this six-week study, the patients were found to be depressed in some weeks and not depressed in others.
In the new study, the patients’ Hamilton scores were compared with their speech patterns each week and a relation between depression and certain acoustic properties was found.
More research is being planned to compare speech patterns in individuals who do not have a history of mental illness to those with depression in order to create an acoustic profile of depression-typical speech.
The study was presented at the 168th meeting of Acoustical Society of America in Indianapolis.
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News source: telegraph.co.uk
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