Smartphone data could help monitor bipolar disorder

April 12, 2017, University of New South Wales
Smartphone data could help monitor bipolar disorder
Credit: University of New South Wales

The early signs of an episode of mania can be hard to detect, but people with bipolar disorder may soon get help from a smart and constant companion – their mobile phones.

Mental health organisation SANE Australia will soon trial a that will monitor a person's technology use for the first signs of a manic episode.

Activity that could indicate changes to their regular behaviour will be reported to two people the person nominates, usually a doctor and family member.

UNSW Head of Psychiatry, Professor Philip Mitchell, has been involved in the app's development, and says it's a novel idea to solve a problem that challenges clinicians.

"The app will pick up changes in patterns that might be the earliest signs of a period of mania," he says.

"That might be activity that shows a lack of sleep, because the person is using their phone at all hours of the night, or an activity that has become more frenetic."

The real-time data would allow the person's doctor to commence treatment early.

"It would allow these discussions to take place before someone starts to do things that can have enormous consequences for their careers or personal relationships," Professor Mitchell says.

"It has been very exciting for me to assist SANE Australia with this very forward-looking and creative initiative."

Mania can lead to drug use, intense irritability, excessive spending, gambling, extreme sexual promiscuity, delusion, paranoia and hallucination.

SANE Australia CEO Jack Heath says people living with bipolar are 15 times more likely to die by suicide.

"We hope this app will help contribute to a reduction in avoidable deaths," Mr Heath says.

A trial of the app involving 400 people will start in July. Gandel Philanthropy provided seed funding for the app's development and non-clinical trial.

Explore further: Brain study identifies bipolar marker

Related Stories

Brain study identifies bipolar marker

March 10, 2017
People with the highest risk of developing bipolar disorder exhibit weak connections in the emotional areas of the brain, a world-first Australian study shows.

Researchers identify differences in the brains of people at high risk of bipolar disorder

January 9, 2017
Young people with bipolar disorder and those at high genetic risk of developing the illness have weak connections in the emotional areas of their brains, a world-first Australian study has found. 

Adults with bipolar disorder at equal risk for anxiety or depression following mania

May 3, 2016
Adults with bipolar disorder are just as likely to develop anxiety as depression following an episode of mania, according to data from a national survey of more than 34,000 adults. This finding, published today in Molecular ...

Review finds ‘significant link’ between cannabis use and onset of mania symptoms

February 10, 2015
Researchers from the University of Warwick have found evidence to suggest a significant relationship between cannabis use and the onset and exacerbation of mania symptoms.

Recommended for you

Young children use physics, not previous rewards, to learn about tools

February 23, 2018
Children as young as seven apply basic laws of physics to problem-solving, rather than learning from what has previously been rewarded, suggests new research from the University of Cambridge.

The 'loudness' of our thoughts affects how we judge external sounds

February 23, 2018
The "loudness" of our thoughts—or how we imagine saying something—influences how we judge the loudness of real, external sounds, a team of researchers from NYU Shanghai and NYU has found.

Study: Tinder loving cheaters—dating app facilitates infidelity

February 23, 2018
The popular dating app Tinder is all about helping people form new relationships. But for many college-aged people, it's also helping those in relationships cheat on their romantic partners.

Looking for the origins of schizophrenia

February 23, 2018
Schizophrenia may be related to neurodevelopmental changes, including brain's inability to generate an appropriate vascular system, according to new study resulted from a partnership between the D"Or Institute for Research ...

Color of judo uniform has no effect on winning

February 22, 2018
New research on competitive judo data finds a winning bias for the athlete who is first called, regardless of the colour of their uniform. This unique study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, puts to rest the debate on ...

Infants are able to learn abstract rules visually

February 22, 2018
Three-month-old babies cannot sit up or roll over, yet they are already capable of learning patterns from simply looking at the world around them, according to a recent Northwestern University study published in PLOS One.


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.