Voice tones could be used to diagnose depression

Research into the vocal ranges of people with depression has found evidence that the way people speak could help to diagnose whether they have depression or not.

As feelings of depression become worse, evidence has been found that people speak with deeper, gravellier and hoarser voices.

Analysing the voice, or recordings of the voice, could help doctors and psychotherapists to spot when people are at their worse, even if they insist they are happy.

The ultimate goal for the research is to develop a phone app that can record a patient’s voice pattern and then check it over time to see if there is any change in tone which could indicate mental health issues.

Acoustician, Dr Carol Espy-Wilson of the University of Maryland feels that such an app would appeal to young people who are having trouble but are reluctant to actively seek help.

Alongside a breakthrough this year which found depression may be able to be diagnosed via blood tests this vocal check could help to create an accurate, objective diagnosis of depression.

The researchers analysed a past study in which six subjects were looked at in 2007. It used the Hamilton Depression Scale to judge how depressed they were, and it was found that some weeks the patients registered as depressed, and on others they did not.

The new study analysed their Hamilton results and checked their speech and vocal patterns. It was found that their vocal patterns shared a correlation with the weeks they registered as depressed.

Further research is planned to expand the evidence, and see whether the findings of this analysis can be re-proved for development into a possible diagnosis tool.

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