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?
- Where Did The Missing BP Oil Go? The Gulf Of Mexico Floor
- Prevent Alzheimer's Disease By Drinking Beer?
- 'Healthy' Fat Tissue Could Be Key To Reversing Type 2 Diabetes
- Fewer Wild Fish Needed: Genetically Modified Plants Produce Omega-3 Fish Oil
- BICEP2 Found Interstellar Dust, Not Primordial Gravitational Waves
- Acceptance Of Evolution Is Far Higher Than Acceptance Of Other Biology
- Planck on BICEP2 "It turns out that the part of the dust had been significantly underestimated." UPDATED
- "This is such an important article. Thank you! After reading the book, Teaming with Microbes: A..."
- "Why? Isn't it like saying 'I won't eat anything but wild strawberries'? If everyone adopted that..."
- "The problem is that women are more likely to compromise when they shouldn't. This may be because..."
- "The best state is Mississippi, which is poor, uneducated, religious and Republican, all things..."
- "Good news, if it can be made economically viable. For now, though, I still won't touch farmed fish...."
Books By Writers Here