Data mining depression

December 3, 2010

Could information technology and data mining techniques be used to improve the diagnosis and treatment of depression? That's the question scientists in Australia hope to have answered in a forthcoming issue of the International Journal of Functional Informatics and Personalised Medicine.

Maja Hadzic, Fedja Hadzic and Tharam Dillon of the Digital Ecosystems and Business Intelligence Institute, at Curtin University of Technology, in Perth, explain how is rapidly emerging as one of the major health problems now facing society. They add that the World Health Organization has predicted that depression will be the world's leading cause of disability by 2020. "We are noticing a spread of a depression epidemic throughout the whole world," the team says. "Usually, an epidemic, such as a swine flu epidemic, has a pathogen associated with it. But, there is no pathogen involved with the depression epidemic." Indeed, the precise causes of depression have not yet been identified although it is clear that many different biological, psychological and are at play in its development.

Moreover, depression often precedes and may cause, directly or indirectly, many such as and diabetes. Using information technology could bring to bear the power of computing in early diagnosis and the development of treatments.

The team has developed a system that integrates three different kinds of patient data as well as the data describing mental health of therapists and their interaction with the patients. This system can be data-mined using standard techniques as well as modern tree-mining techniques so that patterns can be seen in the onset, treatment and management of depression. "The data describing patients' activities, bodily functions and feelings as well as the data describing mental health of therapists will be collected and collectively mined to reveal interesting patterns," the team explains.

The patterns that emerge from data mining this information will not only improve our understanding of this disease, but could give practitioners new insights into prevention and treatment. Their approach balances the fact that no two cases of depression are the same as all patients are individuals and all are different whereas healthcare practitioners do observe similarities in behavior and response to treatment between different patients.

"Patients will be able to receive highly personalized treatments, the therapists will be assisted in making evidence-based decisions, and the scientist will be able to pursue new knowledge revealing true causes of depression whilst developing more effective treatment approaches," the team concludes.

More information: "Mining of patient data: towards better treatment strategies for depression" in International Journal of Functional Informatics and Personalised Medicine, 2010, 3, 122-143

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Probing how Americans think about mental life

October 20, 2017
When Stanford researchers asked people to think about the sensations and emotions of inanimate or non-human entities, they got a glimpse into how those people think about mental life.

Itsy bitsy spider: Fear of spiders and snakes is deeply embedded in us

October 19, 2017
Snakes and spiders evoke fear and disgust in many people, even in developed countries where hardly anybody comes into contact with them. Until now, there has been debate about whether this aversion is innate or learnt. Scientists ...

Dutch courage—Alcohol improves foreign language skills

October 18, 2017
A new study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, conducted by researchers from the University of Liverpool, Maastricht University and King's College London, shows that bilingual speakers' ability to speak a second ...

Inflamed support cells appear to contribute to some kinds of autism

October 18, 2017
Modeling the interplay between neurons and astrocytes derived from children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues in Brazil, say innate ...

Study suggests psychedelic drugs could reduce criminal behavior

October 18, 2017
Classic psychedelics such as psilocybin (often called magic mushrooms), LSD and mescaline (found in peyote) are associated with a decreased likelihood of antisocial criminal behavior, according to new research from investigators ...

Taking probiotics may reduce postnatal depression

October 18, 2017
Researchers from the University of Auckland and Otago have found evidence that a probiotic given in pregnancy can help prevent or treat symptoms of postnatal depression and anxiety.

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.