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Smartphone app predicts depression

18 December 2013

The traditional method for studying the development of depression is via a questionnaire. But the Department of Clinical Psychology in the University of Groningen is starting up a similar study using an app. This simple smartphone programme will be used to ask participants just one question: how are you feeling at the moment?

Questions such as ‘how many hours of sleep did you get last month?’ or ‘how unpredictable were your moods last week?’ are much more difficult to answer than a simple ‘how are you feeling at the moment?’ A recent study has shown that the answer to this question is a fairly accurate measure of an approaching bout of depression. The only condition is that the question is asked often enough to give a good impression of how often and how quickly a person’s mood is changing.

The app asks the person how he/she is feeling several times a day. A ‘mood meter’ registers the mood score on a scale of five to ten.

Depression is one of the most common mental disorders. A staggering twenty percent of the population will experience depression at some time during their life. Depression has a huge impact on quality of life, it reduces life expectancy and puts a strain on the person’s social and working environment.


Furthermore, eighty percent of those who have suffered one bout of depression will have a relapse. This makes it important to recognize the warning signs as early as possible. The app would seem to be a useful instrument.

The study is being carried out as part of national research into the effectiveness of short training courses to prevent relapse. The aim is find out which method works best: continuing with antidepressants, cognitive training or a combination of both. People who have suffered and recovered from more than one bout of depression can apply to take part in this study.

For questions and more information, please contact: C. Slofstra, tel. +31 (0)6 39 616 754, e-mail:

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Last modified:15 September 2017 3.31 p.m.
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