Tag Archives: health

Your phone knows if you’re depressed

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iphone

Time spent on smartphone and GPS location sensor data detect depression

NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY

CHICAGO — You can fake a smile, but your phone knows the truth. Depression can be detected from your smartphone sensor data by tracking the number of minutes you use the phone and your daily geographical locations, reports a small Northwestern Medicine study.

The more time you spend using your phone, the more likely you are depressed. The average daily usage for depressed individuals was about 68 minutes, while for non-depressed individuals it was about 17 minutes.

Spending most of your time at home and most of your time in fewer locations — as measured by GPS tracking — also are linked to depression. And, having a less regular day-to-day schedule, leaving your house and going to work at different times each day, for example, also is linked to depression.

Based on the phone sensor data, Northwestern scientists could identify people with depressive symptoms with 87 percent accuracy.

“The significance of this is we can detect if a person has depressive symptoms and the severity of those symptoms without asking them any questions,” said senior author David Mohr, director of the Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “We now have an objective measure of behavior related to depression. And we’re detecting it passively. Phones can provide data unobtrusively and with no effort on the part of the user.”

The research could ultimately lead to monitoring people at risk of depression and enabling health care providers to intervene more quickly.

The study will be published July 15 in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

The smart phone data was more reliable in detecting depression than daily questions participants answered about how sad they were feeling on a scale of 1 to 10. Their answers may be rote and often are not reliable, said lead author Sohrob Saeb, a postdoctoral fellow and computer scientist in preventive medicine at Feinberg.

“The data showing depressed people tended not to go many places reflects the loss of motivation seen in depression,” said Mohr, who is a clinical psychologist and professor of preventive medicine at Feinberg. “When people are depressed, they tend to withdraw and don’t have the motivation or energy to go out and do things.”

While the phone usage data didn’t identify how people were using their phones, Mohr suspects people who spent the most time on them were surfing the web or playing games, rather than talking to friends.

“People are likely, when on their phones, to avoid thinking about things that are troubling, painful feelings or difficult relationships,” Mohr said. “It’s an avoidance behavior we see in depression.”

Saeb analyzed the GPS locations and phone usage for 28 individuals (20 females and eight males, average age of 29) over two weeks. The sensor tracked GPS locations every five minutes.

To determine the relationship between phone usage and geographical location and depression, the subjects took a widely used standardized questionnaire measuring depression, the PHQ-9, at the beginning of the two-week study. The PHQ-9 asks about symptoms used to diagnose depression such as sadness, loss of pleasure, hopelessness, disturbances in sleep and appetite, and difficulty concentrating. Then, Saeb developed algorithms using the GPS and phone usage data collected from the phone, and correlated the results of those GPS and phone usage algorithms with the subjects’ depression test results.

Of the participants, 14 did not have any signs of depression and 14 had symptoms ranging from mild to severe depression.

The goal of the research is to passively detect depression and different levels of emotional states related to depression, Saeb said.

The information ultimately could be used to monitor people who are at risk of depression to, perhaps, offer them interventions if the sensor detected depression or to deliver the information to their clinicians.

Future Northwestern research will look at whether getting people to change those behaviors linked to depression improves their mood.

“We will see if we can reduce symptoms of depression by encouraging people to visit more locations throughout the day, have a more regular routine, spend more time in a variety of places or reduce mobile phone use,” Saeb said.

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This research was funded by research grants P20 MH090318 and K08 MH 102336 from the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health.

Yoga for Anxiety and Depression

by MHAM Volunteer Stefanie Motta

As anyone who has experienced anxiety or depression knows, support from friends, family, a therapist, or an advocate is crucial. Yet, learning skills to support ourselves through difficult times can empower us to heal throughout an entire lifetime. One of the most effective self-care practices that I have found is yoga. This ancient Indian practice has been embraced around the globe as a system for achieving physical, mental, and emotional health, and research is now showing that regular yogic practice can alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.

After healing from her own depression using yoga and meditation techniques, yoga teacher and author Amy Weintraub, has dedicated her career to helping others feel better. In an interview for the May 2013 issue of Yoga Journal, Weintraub explains why yoga can be an effective component of any mental health treatment plan, “It lowers cortisol, the stress hormone; it activates the parasympathetic system, which is calming; and it deactivates the limbic brain, which is overactive in people who are very anxious or have a history of trauma.”

One of the most noticeable effects of my yoga practice is the sense of calm and peace that come from deep breathing along with the physical postures. When we are stressed, anxious, or depressed, our breathing often becomes shallow and constricted, which can trigger more stress in turn. In addition to the regular deep breathing of a yoga practice, there are many additional yogic breathing techniques that can help us relax when we feel triggered by a stressor or a depressing thought.

“Bee breath” which is named after the buzzing sound that bees make, is one of my favorite yogic breathing techniques. It is instantly calming, and you can try it any time you feel anxious or your mind is spinning. Because of the sound you’ll make, you may want to find a quiet, private place to practice this technique. Sit, or stand comfortably and take a slow, deep breath in and out, allowing your shoulders to relax away from your ears. Now with your eyes closed (if that feels comfortable) take another deep breath in through your nostrils, seal your lips, and breathe out through your nose while making the sound of the letter M until you need to inhale once more. You will make a buzzing sound in the back of your throat each time you exhale through your nose. Repeat this for a few minutes or as long as it feels good.

According to Weinbrub, “The message of yoga is that deep within you, you are whole and healed, no matter what is going on in your life.” Tapping into that mindset and empowering ourselves with tools like yoga can help each of us to find healing on our own path.

The Last Gold Leaf Releases EP Opaque

By Derrick Keith, Band Member, The Last Gold Leaf

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When I was sixteen my parents bought be my first guitar as an Easter present. I never thought of myself as a musician. I was the kind of kid that spent endless hours locked away in my room, pencil in hand, drawing feverishly, seeking desperately to express the fanciful worlds in my head into images on a page. In fact, even as I began writing songs I never imagined I would seek to make a career out of music.

Picking up that guitar unlocked an urgency in me. I found that others could identify with the loneliness and depression that informed my music. And that made us all a little less lonely, the days seem just a little bit brighter. I was hooked and there was no looking back. I set out to find that connection on a larger and larger scale.

If I were to try to sum up my goal as a songwriter in one word I think it would be “fearless.” I believe my role as an artist is to bring light to those dark places in our psyche that we become afraid to talk about. The unpretty things: addiction, poverty, hunger, betrayal. It seems as if our culture is almost engineered to isolate ourselves from one another. But it’s in recognizing our griefs, our failures, in forgiving that we can tear down the walls we built originally to protect us. The walls we found cut us off from our lifelines.

I have seen friends, family members, lovers, strangers in deep hurt. In need of help. Become helpless. But I believe in the power of music to heal. To foster community. To open up wounds to draw the infection out. I seek to bring to the surface the ugliness so we can accept one another.

That’s why I reached out to the Mental Health Association of Minnesota (MHAM). Music can raise the questions, but MHAM has the resources to help heal the wounds. None of us can do it alone. According to the National Institute on Mental Health’s website, In 2012 18.6 percent of adults ages 18 and above were diagnosed with mental illnesses. That’s almost 2 out of every 10 people. And that’s just the people seeking help.

If you or a loved one you know have questions, seek help.

The Mental Health Association of Minnesota is proud to support the band The Last Gold Leaf in their upcoming EP release party for their new album Opaque. Through this release party for the EP Opaque, The Last Gold Leaf hopes to generate awareness of mental health and point people in the right direction to find treatment and services for mental illnesses.  Staff from MHAM will be at the party to share information about mental health and our services. A portion of the proceeds from this event will benefit the Mental Health Association of Minnesota.

Guests include: Parachute Empire, The Lost Wheels, and Kara Doten

Featuring photography by Haythem Lafaj

Location
The Stu
77 13th Ave NE
MInneapolis, MN

Cost: $11

Purchase tickets here.

Give to the Max on November 14!

The Great Minnesota Give Together is a week away! On Thursday, November 14, MHAM will participate in its fifth Give to the Max Day through GiveMN.org. And, we are pleased to announce that the MHAM Board of Directors has offered a very generous matching grant to help MHAM reach its year-end fundraising goal of $25,000. The Board will match all donations made to MHAM from November 1 through the end of the year up to $10,000. Give to the Max Day also provides many other opportunities for MHAM to raise additional funds.

Each year generous supporters like you join us for the exciting 24-hour annual Give to the Max Day. Every gift made on November 14 increases our chances of winning at least one $1,000 Golden Ticket! By partnering with GiveMN, an online giving website for Minnesota nonprofits, MHAM will have 25 chances to be selected for a $1,000 Golden Ticket.  Here’s the really exciting part: At the end of Give to the Max Day, one donation from across Minnesota will be randomly selected for a $10,000 Super-sized Golden Ticket! What’s more, if we reach the top of our leaderboard, we are also eligible for a $10,000 grant.

In addition to Golden Tickets and Leaderboard awards, GiveMN is also introducing Power Hours. During five different hours, agencies that reach the top of their leaderboard at the end of the hour will receive an additional $1,000 donation. Whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, there are times you may want to consider donating. Power Hours are:

  • 2:00 – 2:59 a.m.
  • 5:00 – 5:59 a.m.
  • 5:00 – 5:59 p.m.
  • 6:00 – 6:59 p.m.
  • 11:00 – 11:59 p.m.

Participating is easy. On Thursday, November 14, go to the Mental Health Association of Minnesota page on www.GiveMN.org. From our donation page you can enter the amount of your donation. Follow the prompts to complete the transaction. You can also schedule your donation early if you don’t want to worry about it on the 14th. Just visit the MHAM page on GiveMN.org, enter the amount of your donation in the space provided, and then check “Make my donation count for Give to the Max Day 2013 (11/14/2013).”

Funds raised through Give to the Max Day will be used to support MHAM’s mental health advocacy and outreach programs. MHAM improves the lives of thousands of people each year by making sure they have access to mental health services and that the community has the correct information about mental illnesses. As a result, people across the state are better able to manage their overall health, remain independent, and lead a more engaged life.

Thank you for your support!

A Few Changes Can Have a Big Impact.

Incorporating healthy lifestyle changes into our daily lives can be challenge, but the long-term benefits it has toward our health and wellbeing can make a big difference. Even simple changes like reducing the amount of time we sit or reducing the amount of salt we eat can have a significant impact on our health. MHAM’s Take Charge booklet provides a few ideas on how to improve your overall health by eating healthy, getting active, managing your stress, and getting a good night’s sleep. Along with these tips, the booklet provides some ideas on how to set a few goals and to track your progress.

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The Take Charge booklet can be downloaded from the MHAM website or ordered online. If you are a service provider and looking for multiple copies, please contact Brett Dumke, Education Coordinator, at brettd@mentalhealthmn.org or 651-756-8584, ext. 6.

Study Finds that Lifestyle Changes Can Lead to Weight Loss for People with SMI

For people with serious mental illness (SMI) the risk for being overweight or obese is significant. Four out of five people with SMI are overweight or obese in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), being overweight or obese can increase your risk for coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, hypertension, dyslipidemia, stroke, and other health conditions. A recent study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, shows that tailored lifestyle programs for people with serious mental health conditions can be effective in achieving healthy weight loss.  

The study consisted of 291 participants from 10 outpatient psychiatric rehabilitation programs that were randomly assigned to an intervention group or control group. The study found that the intervention group that received regular weekly group exercise classes and individual/group weight management classes had significant weight loss compared to the control group that had basic information on nutrition and exercise at the beginning of the study.

After 18 months the participants in the intervention group:

  • on average, lost 7 pounds more than the control group.
  • 38% lost 5% or more of their initial weight, as compared to 23% for the control group.
  •  nearly 1 in 5 participants lost 10% or more of their initial weight, as compared to 1 in 14 participants in the control group.

The study also found that the participants from the intervention group who were taking certain psychotropic medications known to cause weight gain still had significant weight loss as well. This study shows that when effective resources are provided, people with SMI can implement healthy lifestyle changes with good results, despite the many challenges that they face.

For more information on this study, please visit the National Institute of Mental Health website:  http://www.nimh.nih.gov/science-news/2013/nih-study-shows-people-with-serious-mental-illnesses-can-lose-weight.shtml

Also, please check out our wellness and recovery resources.

Get Out and Be Active!

With nearly two weeks of spring behind us, the hope of warm weather and getting outside to soak up some sunshine will eventually come. In Minnesota, we are fortunate to have so many city, county, and state parks that offer a variety of recreational activities, such as biking, hiking, walking and swimming, just to name a few. Not only do many of these activities can impact your overall health, but can also provide a place to connect with friends, family, and people from your community. Below are just a few resources to help plan a visit to your local or state parks.

Listings of Minnesota state parks
http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks

Listings of Minnesota county websites
http://mn.gov/portal/government/local/Counties

Also, check out our Take Charge booklet for more ideas to improve your health and wellbeing, tips on setting some wellness goals, and to track your progress.

Prevent Heat Related Stress

From the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Excessive Heat Exposure Can Pose Higher Risks for Those on Psychotropic Medication or Other Substances

During this period when parts of the Nation are experiencing record high temperatures, SAMHSA is reminding everyone that these conditions can pose certain health risks to everyone—including people with mental and substance use disorders.

Exposure to excessive heat is dangerous and can lead to heatstroke, which is considered a medical emergency. Heatstroke occurs when an abnormally elevated body temperature is unable to cool itself. Internal body temperatures can rise to levels that may cause irreversible brain damage and death.

Individuals with behavioral health conditions who are taking psychotropic medications, or using certain substances such as illicit drugs and alcohol, may be at a higher risk for heatstroke and heat-related illnesses. These medications and substances can interfere with the body’s ability to regulate heat and an individual’s awareness that his or her body temperature is rising.

Visit the CDC’s Extreme Heat: A Prevention Guide To Promote Your Personal Health and Safety for information on how to prevent, recognize, and treat heat-related illnesses.

The Minnesota Olmstead Planning Committee Wants to Hear from You!

When it comes to services for people with disabilities, how well do you think current public policies and practices in Minnesota meet your needs? What’s working for you? What isn’t? These are all questions the Minnesota Olmstead Committee would like to ask.

By October 2012, this committee must develop goals, recommendations, and a timeline that will become Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan. This Plan will be submitted to the State of Minnesota through the Minnesota Department of Human Services. The Minnesota Department of Human Services will begin to implement recommended changes in 2013.

You can help shape this plan by going to the Minnesota Olmstead Planning Committee’s website. The committee wants to hear from individuals living with disabilities, their families, service providers, and concerned community members.

The site is still being developed, but check back often for more information about the Olmstead Decision and ways that you can be a part of the conversation.

Nominations Now Being Accepted for the 2012 Gloria Segal Award

MHAM is accepting nominations for the 2012 Gloria Segal Award for excellence in improving the lives of Minnesotans with mental illnesses. This award is given to honor the memory of Representative Gloria Segal. Representative Segal served in the Minnesota House of Representatives from 1983 until her untimely death in 1993. In her 10 years in the legislature, she worked tirelessly to change how people with mental illnesses are treated in Minnesota. She led the way in the passage of groundbreaking legislation such as mandating coverage of mental health treatment in group health insurance plans and the creation of the mental health division at the Department of Health and Human Services, the State Ombudsman’s Office for Mental Health, and the State Advisory Council.

The Gloria Segal Award is given to an individual who has improved the lives of a great number of Minnesotans with mental illnesses. Accomplishments may include:

  • Empowering people with mental illnesses
  • Clinically treating people with mental illnesses
  • Championing key legislation
  • Increasing resources for people with mental illnesses
  • Creating or improving systems of care for people with mental illnesses
  • Performing key research in the area of mental health
  • Creating a popular book/movie/play or other work of art that significantly decreases stigma

The Gloria Segal Award has been received by Representative Mindy Greiling in 2009 and Robin Wold and Hope House in Bemidji in 2011.

Do you know someone who has significantly improved the lives of Minnesotans with mental illnesses? We invite you to let us know! Please provide a short narrative including:

  • Name and phone number of the person you are nominating
  • Your name, phone number, and email
  • Nominee’s relationship to the mental health community
  • Activities which improve the lives of people with mental illnesses
  • Accomplishments in those activities

Nominations will be accepted May 15 through June 30, 2012. The award will be presented at the 3rd Annual Celebrating Recovery event on September 27, 2012.

Submit your nomination to edeide @ mentalhealthmn.org or via mail to:

Mental Health Association of Minnesota
Attn: Gloria Segal Award Nomination Committee
475 Cleveland Avenue N, Suite 222
Saint Paul, MN 55104