It's hardly surprising that clinically depressed people act differently than healthy people. Quantifying the difference, however, can be difficult. Now a collaboration of physicists and psychiatrists in Japan has found a way to clearly and objectively measure depression.
The researchers outfitted both healthy control subjects and depressed patients with accelerometers to continuously measure their motions over 5-day periods. Although activity levels in all of the subjects followed power-law patterns (a type of distribution that often turns up in physics studies of natural systems) the activity levels of depressed patients were clearly distinguished from healthy subjects by a number known as the scaling parameter. For patients with major depression, the scaling parameter is significantly smaller than it is for healthy subjects.
It can be a challenge to spot differences in behavior between depressed and healthy individuals via simple observation, and self-reported depression assessments are often unreliable. Applying instrumentation and statistical analyses common in physics research could dramatically improve the reliability and accuracy in measurements of depression, and may help in tailoring appropriate treatments for the debilitating ailment.
Source: T. Nakamura, K. Kiyono, K. Yoshiuchi, R. Nakahara, Z. R. Struzik, and Y. Yamamoto, Physical Review Letters
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Sam Ting On AMS Results: Dark Matter Might Be One Seminar Away
- Vitriolic Abuse Of Anita Sarkeesian: Why The Games Industry Needs Her
- Why Natural Gas, Including Fracking, Is Better For The Environment Than Wind And Solar
- BICEP2's vision wasn't that strong, Planck says their window was too dusty.
- Graphene Sensor Tracks Down Cancer Biomarkers
- Mysterious 1808 Eruption - The Real Cause Of The Coldest Decade Of The Last 500 Years
- Nature Communications Switching To Exclusive Open Access
- "It's amazing to see the PR machine that Ting has put together at work. Not only do we have to wait..."
- ":) Actually amphetamine salts were not sustainable as an ADHD solution for me. They actually did..."
- "Hi Hontas. This caught my eye: That said, it may be that there simply is no strong signal of inflation..."
- "1.) Fundamentally one can never prove any theory. That's what makes a theory different from..."
- "I thank you for your comment, which I think is very important. Especially the question aboutPerhaps..."
- Note to young men: Fat doesn't pay
- Immune system is key ally in cyberwar against cancer
- Medical students who attended community college likelier to serve poor communities
- Study helps assess impact of temperature on belowground soil decomposition
- Facial masculinity not always a telling factor in mate selection