UCLA launches a major depression study in collaboration with Apple

Researchers at UCLA have announced that they have launched a new study in collaboration with Apple that will look at revolutionizing the detection and treatment of depression. The three-year study started this week and was co-designed by researchers at UCLA and Apple. Researchers will obtain objective measures of factors like sleep, physical activity, heart rate, and daily routines to link those factors and the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

The researchers will use Apple technology, including the iPhone, Apple Watch, and a Beddit sleep-monitoring device. The goal is to make a connection between quantifiable data in the symptoms of anxiety and depression to allow healthcare providers to note warning signs and prevent the onset of depressive episodes. Researchers also want to track the effectiveness of treatment and identify the causes of depression.

Researcher Dr. Nelson Freimersays that the collaboration between Apple and UCLA will help harness the university’s research expertise and the innovative technology that Apple makes to transform behavioral health research and clinical care. Fremier says that current approaches to treating depression rely mostly on subjective recollections of depression sufferers.

Obtaining objective and precise measurements to guide diagnosis and treatment are critical steps in treating these conditions. The participants will download a research app on their personal iPhones and will be given an Apple watch and sleep monitor. They’ll use the equipment for the duration of the study.

They will also share relevant information through periodic clinical interviews and questionnaires as well as from data obtained from the phone, watch, and sleep monitor. The new study has come out of the UCLA Depression Grand Challenge that has made significant advances in understanding and treating depression already.

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