Tech-Based Solutions Hold Promise in Mood Disorders: Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Network Deemed a 'Game Changer.'

By Beck, Debra L. | Clinical Psychiatry News, June 2015 | Go to article overview

Tech-Based Solutions Hold Promise in Mood Disorders: Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Network Deemed a 'Game Changer.'


Beck, Debra L., Clinical Psychiatry News


EXPERT ANALYSIS AT THE APA ANNUAL MEETING

TORONTO -- "What if we could detect a mood episode before it happened?" It was with this question that Dr. Andrew A. Nierenberg began his talk on new advances in mood disorders research at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association.

From predictive analytics to big data collaboration to therapeutic apps, Dr. Nierenberg led the audience through a tour of the now and near future. One company in this space, Ginger.io, uses behavioral analytics to better understand patients' changing Social, mental, and physical health status. The data can then be fed quickly back to clinicians when intervention is warranted. The company's app collects passive sensor data from patients' smartphones about their movement, communication, and sleep patterns. Sophisticated analytical methods detect changes in behavior and predict people's moods and actions.

"It's a little creepy in some ways, but maybe not," he said. "If you think about it, when people come to us in distress, it's not at the very edge or beginning of a mood episode, but they're deep into it [and that is] when we tend to intervene."

When a patient is evaluated, he explained, the strength of the evaluation is dependent on accurate self-observation, and accurate storage and recall of the patient's observations about their emotional states.

"Those are all problems for people with mood disorders," said Dr. Nierenberg, who is known for his research in treatment-resistant de pression. "So, when we ask someone how they have been in the past week, we're really getting a window into the past 3-6 hours.

"What these predictive analytics allow is real-time data to look at what is actually happening with people."

The question really being asked here, said Dr. Nierenberg, the principal investigator of moodnetwork.org., is whether it's possible to see objective changes that are not among the information people are likely to report to their clinicians, that can predict a mood episode.

Harnessing technology

Big data also has come to mood disorders care in a big way. Large registries are being compiled for research purposes, and patient communities are growing that help patients cope with their conditions and help researchers collect huge amounts of data.

According to its website, Big White Wall is an online community of people "who are anxious, down, or not coping who support and help each other by sharing what's troubling them, guided by trained professionals."

Other examples of these tech-based solutions are therapeutic apps and websites. Dr. Nierenberg mentioned just three: MoodGYM, Now Matters Now, and Pacifica, all of which are "cutting edge and evidence-based" and help patients manage their conditions. …

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