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Phone app could predict manic episodes for bipolar sufferers

Mood disorders affect millions of people in the U.S. Many people are able to seek treatment and manage their symptoms in such a way that allows them to continue working and take care of themselves. Unfortunately, there are some severe cases where people are so affected by the various degrees of disability caused by their condition that they cannot do these things.

One such condition that can be serious enough to limit a person's ability and well-being is bipolar disorder. Sufferers of bipolar disorder can experience significant mood changes that swing from manic euphoria to deep depression. This mental illness can be devastating and in severe cases can result in suicide. Recently it was announced that a new smartphone app has been released which attempts to help bipolar disorder sufferers predict swings and identify them early enough to seek treatment and care.

The new app is called PRIORI. According to reports, the app monitors a user's speech pattern and analyzes it for signs of dramatic mood shifts. For instance, a person speaking loudly and quickly may be experiencing a manic episode. Those who may be swinging toward depression may speak slower and pause more. When and if these signals are picked up, the app user or his or her doctor can be alerted and treatment can be administered.

This is not the only app that has been designed to monitor mood disorders. In fact, there is at least one other app that is geared specifically toward identifying bipolar disorder signals. But what this shows us is that efforts to diagnose, monitor and predict these serious mental illnesses are ongoing, and that technology may be an especially effective tool.

However, these apps aren't necessarily geared toward the actual treatment of mood or mental disorders. For that, people need to speak with a doctor. Seeking help and getting medical treatment can allow sufferers to access treatment and provide them with the evidence they need to pursue benefits including Social Security disability insurance.

Source: Slate.com, "It's Not Just What You Say, It's How You Say It," Aimee Swartz, Aug. 3, 2014

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