Can your smartphone tell you if you have depression?

Story highlights

  • Apps are available or being developed that could alert you about the risk of depression
  • A new app called Purple Robot identified 87% of users with likely depression, according to a study
  • Questions remain about how much these apps help people

(CNN)Getting a diagnosis of depression usually involves filling out questionnaires about your mood and undergoing lengthy interviews with a psychiatrist. But smartphone apps might be able to handle some of that work, and at least tell you if you are at risk of depression, simply by collecting GPS and other data, according to a new study.

Researchers at Northwestern University in Illinois tested an app they developed called Purple Robot. It uses data from a number of sensors in the smartphone that detect location, movement, phone usage and other activities to assess if a user is likely to have depression.
    "The main reason for the development of the app is to see if we can objectively and passively identify if people are depressed," said Sohrob Saeb, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University who is one of the developers of Purple Robot.
    In the