Artificial intelligence (AI) might recognise behavioural symptoms of anxiety with more than 90% accuracy. Anxiety signs such as nail-biting, knuckle cracking, hand tapping, and so on were detected using motion sensors. AI technology may provide novel options to enhance mental health outcomes.
Medically reviewed by Dr K on 22nd June 2022.
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Artificial Intelligence Could Be The Key To Detecting Mental Illnesses In The Future
New research revealed that Artificial Intelligence (AI) can identify anxiety symptoms with more than 92 percent accuracy.
This study, published in Pervasive and Mobile Computing, used data from adult participants in Pakistan, in which motions were captured using a sensor while people did a series of tasks in a certain sequence.
These technological advances have the potential to open up potential approaches for more effectively treating mental health concerns.
Source - WIRED
Anxiety Detection Through Behaviour
This research included 10 individuals ranging in age from 20 to 50 years old, and motion sensors were utilised to identify behavioural symptoms of anxiety.
Researchers utilised motion sensors and deep learning methods to identify anxiety in particular behaviours such as nail-biting, knuckle cracking, hand tapping, and so on, which were shown to be more than 92 percent accurate.
While this study gives insights into how AI might be used to better measure anxiety symptoms, one disadvantage of this study is its tiny data set, since it only included 10 people.
AI Has the Potential to Improve Mental Health
Gulnaz Anjum, PhD, a social psychologist and researcher for this study, tells Verywell, “A major takeaway from this research is that we can safely and conveniently use artificial intelligence (AI) to provide measurement, analysis, and diagnostics for anxiety.“
Another of the study's researchers, Nida Saddaf Khan, BS, MBA, tells Verywell, “For human activity recognition, deep learning is among the most reliable and robust algorithms. It has earned the researchers' trust due to its capability to learn the temporal dynamics and complex patterns even from raw sensors’ data.“
Anjum points out that, once accessible, this could be as simple as wearing a wristwatch with their app and viewing the readings. “We are working with a higher number of human participants to establish comparisons but the initial research provides a safe, non-intrusive, non-subjective, and accurate way of measuring anxiety," she says.
Anjum emphasises how utilising merely subjective measurements, scales, and evaluations to quantify anxiety may induce further tension and worry in both individuals and doctors. “Using AI, such as our sensors and deep learning models can be very helpful because this assessment works in the background without our conscious attention," she says.
“We are working with a higher number of human participants to establish comparisons but the initial research provides a safe, non-intrusive, non-subjective, and accurate way of measuring anxiety,” says Gulnaz Anjum, PhD.
Anjum emphasises that when reading and using their study, people should keep in mind that the objective is to broaden horizons for the detection of anxiety disorders and, eventually, the improvement of people's mental health, but warns that their work is solely applicable for diagnostics.
As a result, Anjum suggests contacting a mental health practitioner for any post-diagnostic work and assistance. “AI is a brilliant tool and a reliable indicator for identification of our anxiety, but when it comes to seeking help, we really need to reach out to a clinician," she says.
Anjum observes that measuring any behavioural feature, if done appropriately and in collaboration with mental health professionals in the area, is now doable. “We have brought forward the first examples of this kind and we are sure that the role of AI in psychological assessment is the future of safe and accessible mental health for all," she says.
Anjum believes that, particularly during a pandemic, “many more people around us have been experiencing higher levels of anxiety due to COVID-19 and climate shocks around the world, so the need for easier and nonintrusive modes of measuring anxiety is higher than ever before.“
A Promising Mental Health Tool
Rashmi Parmar, MD, a psychiatrist at Mindpath Health, tells Verywell, “This is a unique study in which the authors utilized human activity recognition sensors paired with smartphones to detect certain physical movements which are associated with anxiety in humans.“
The ultimate aim, according to Dr. Parmar, is to give more precise data for clinical researchers and clinicians to diagnose, assess, and treat anxiety disorders. “Anxiety can manifest in different forms in different people which could include physical as well as emotional symptoms," she says.
While the actions examined in this research may suggest anxiety, Dr. Parmar points out that they are not necessarily the result of anxiety. “For example, other scenarios like fatigue or boredom can also lead to similar activities and may be indistinguishable from anxiety unless clinically evaluated," she says.
Dr Parmar explains, “This study is a useful starting point. The findings of this study need to be correlated clinically for more accuracy. Although AI can help identify at-risk individuals, a detailed clinical evaluation will still be required to confirm a psychiatric diagnosis.“
“AI sounds like a promising tool in the future of mental health, especially with electronics and smartphones being so popular with the current generation.” says Rashmi Parmar, MD.
Dr. Parmar emphasises that there aren't enough studies to compare since AI research in mental health is still in its early stages. “When you consider AI and its application in medicine, it is important to balance the overall risks vs. benefits of the designed application and whether the results can be replicated in the real world," she says.
Dr. Parmar notes, “AI sounds like a promising tool in the future of mental health, especially with electronics and smartphones being so popular with the current generation. If designed well, AI tools can aid in early detection, evaluation, and treatment of psychiatric illnesses and may possibly help with prevention efforts as well.“
According to Dr. Parmar's personal experience, it may be able to identify anxious people based on specific verbal and nonverbal signs, such as rigid posture, trembling, a nervous handshake or grin, increased perspiration, quick breathing, trouble thinking, or sustaining a steady conversation.
A comprehensive clinical interview and mental state test, according to Dr. Parmar, may confirm a diagnosis. “If designed properly, AI-based tools can come in quite handy in everyday clinical scenarios," she says.
While AI will not be able to replace the much-needed “human touch" in medicine, Dr. Parmar points out that it may certainly make life simpler and minimise burnout for those devoted to a brighter future for medicine.
What Does This Mean for You?
As this research shows, AI technology may help identify anxiety symptoms. While further study is required, these results provide insights into how mental health may be treated more effectively in the future. Clinical methods to promote wellbeing may be aided by technology.
- Khan N, Ghani M, Anjum G. ADAM-sense: Anxiety-displaying activities recognition by motion sensors. Pervasive Mob Comput. 2021;78:101485. doi:10.1016/j.pmcj.2021.101485