Speech a new marker for depression treatment response

August 13, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- Speech can measure the severity of depression as well as a patient’s response to treatment, a new collaborative study between the University of Melbourne and the Center for Psychological Consultation in Wisconsin, USA has revealed.

The study, the largest of its kind in the world and published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, found that improvement in patients diagnosed with depression and undergoing can be monitored over the phone by looking at changes in their speech.

Dr Adam Vogel, Head of the Speech Neuroscience Unit at the University of Melbourne, said that speech is a strong marker of brain health, and changes in how we sound reflects how well our brain is working.

“The speech of people with depression changes when they respond to treatment, becoming faster and with shorter pauses. Those with more severe depression produce longer pauses and have slower speaking rates,” he said.

The randomized controlled trial of 105 patients looked at vocal acoustic properties such as timing, pitch and intonation to see if they could provide reliable biomarkers to depression severity and responses to treatment.

Patients were required to call an automated telephone system and leave samples of their speech, such as saying how they felt, reading a passage of text and reciting the alphabet.

“This offers greater treatment flexibility as we can now check on our patients remotely, looking at their patterns even from remote or rural areas,” said Dr James Mundt, Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Psychological Consultation in Wisconsin, USA.

“We know that depressed have difficulties expressing themselves, so if we can improve how we assess , then we can improve how we treat it.”

Explore further: Traumatic brain injury shows strong link to depression, but treatments lack study

Related Stories

It's not just entertainers who experience voice problems

November 22, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- In recent weeks, popular singers Adele and Keith Urban have canceled tours in order to undergo surgery to correct problems associated with their voices. Their stories draw attention to the need to precisely ...

Brain 'talks over' boring speech quotes

March 26, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- Storytelling is a skill not everyone can master, but even the most crashing bore gets help from their audience’s brain which ‘talks over’ their monotonous quotes, according to scientists.

'Special K' could relieve depression

June 7, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- Recreational drug and anaesthetic, ketamine, is being trialled in people with severe depression and is providing almost instant relief from symptoms, offering fresh hope of a quick new way to manage the ...

Recommended for you

Why we fall prey to misinformation

August 23, 2016

Even when we know better, we often rely on inaccurate or misleading information to make future decisions. But why are we so easily influenced by false statements such as "vaccinations cause autism" or "30 million illegal ...

Sleep makes relearning faster and longer-lasting

August 22, 2016

Getting some sleep in between study sessions may make it easier to recall what you studied and relearn what you've forgotten, even 6 months later, according to new findings from Psychological Science, a journal of the Association ...

Have we misunderstood post-traumatic stress disorder?

August 22, 2016

In understanding war-related post-traumatic stress disorder, a person's cultural and professional context is just as important as how they cope with witnessing wartime events, which could change the way mental health experts ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.