Technology and the digital age has launched society into the future, changing and helping all aspects of life. Including the world of depression, which we have already talked about. Over the last two years alone 90% of the data in the world was generated (1). There is no telling where technology will go next, what is possible and what will have the largest digital impact in the future. The technological impact on depression is overwhelming, both positively and negatively. But, this could all just be the beginning. Where is the future of helping those in need?
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
New AI can detect depression from a person’s speech (2)
Depression AI is in the early stages of its life cycle. With many researcher claims and tests. But it is out there. With the Amazon, Echo even having a free installable Depression.AI software (3) available to all with an Amazon, Echo. This software encourages people to go out and do daily activities and dentures suicidal thoughts, elevates mood by a highly empathetic Alexa bot.
The Good, The Bad and The Computer
Therapist Debbie Lockyer stated in an interview that “these AI softwares on machines are what’s next in helping those with depression. Whether that be in diagnosis, helping way or life or through helping professionals. These are where helping those who suffer from depression lies.”
These softwares are very positive with features that include (4):
- Mood evaluation by a highly empathetic Alexa bot.
- Location-based therapy recommendations.
- Suggestions for small activities to improve the user’s mood.
- Displays informative cards in the Alexa app.
Getting out and doing small activities is very important for those in need and this encouragement is very positive. As well as this, this software encourages a change in language. Where someone would think that they have had a terrible day fuelling their negative thoughts. This bot empathises and suggested that maybe it wasn’t such a bad day, this change in language makes huge strides in a person’s thoughts and self-worth, changing a state of mind drastically.
Kathy Wolstenholme argues against this saying that “In the beginning, it’s hard for AI to have those deep connections and self-awareness. It’s at the beginning of it and I think it will be really great in the future. But, people now might not be able to connect with it as it is not quite personal enough.”
Have you ever seen the movie Her? Good film and it doesn’t show technology as being bad. But, that should be a future we fear. If artificial intelligence develops to a state where everyone can have access and talk to it anytime, anywhere. Many people especially those who feel lonely will become dependant on AI. If these AI’s that are created to empathise and connect with people do this too well than many fragile minded people may now never want to leave their safe place. Only being able to talk to this AI that “understands them” like no one else.
Webinars, Online Groups and Therapy
37% of adults with depression do not receive any treatment (5)
Due to the number of people that require help in today’s climate, the lack of available help and due to long waiting lists. The NHS has introduced interactive online Webinars (6).
With the aim to:
- Improve Way of Life
- Develop New Care Models
- Transform Quality of Living
These aim to bring people together, to show that they are not alone. Giving them a platform and safe space to share their troubles with people that can understand and help. Many sites and organisations that specialise in helping those in need now use group video chats to show that you are not alone and to able to connect to people who are feeling the same way as you. These video calls allow you to make those big steps with other people whilst also being able to do so from the safety of your own home.
Apps and Self-Help
The amount of people with depression is rising with the diagnoses of major depression have risen dramatically by 33 % since 2013 (7). So being able to professionally treat everyone is becoming more and more challenging. This has lead to many apps and self-help guides (8) being the new way many are receiving help. These ways of treatment are clear signs that technology has had a huge impact on the world of depression and is now the future of how we receive help.
Social Media Software Diagnoses
Lastly, software is being introduced that will help diagnose depression three months earlier than health services by analysing Facebook posts (9). This will help diagnose and support depressive people before they even know what is wrong. Giving them time to reach out before it’s too late.
Despite it’s negatives technology has allowed for many advances in treating those with depression creating a lot of positives to counteract the negatives. There is no question there has been a large digital impact on the world of depression. Through creating causes and treatments and even revolutionising how therapists go about treating their clients. The future of the world and treating depression is through technology.
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