In a new development in the treatment of depression, a study has found that speech patterns can reveal the severity of depression and patient's response to treatment.
The study done is largest of its kind in the world and it has found that improvement in patients diagnosed with depression and undergoing treatment can be observed over the phone by through observing changes in their speech pattern.
Adam Vogel head of the Speech Neuroscience Unit at Australia's University of Melbourne says that the speech was a strong parameter of brain health, and changes in speech shows functioning of our brain, says a report published in the journal Biological Psychiatry reports.
"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," Vogel has been quoted saying in a Melbourne statement.
For the study, the researchers conducted randomized controlled trial of 105 patients and looked vocal acoustic properties such as timing, pitch and intonation. It was done to see if they could provide reliable biomarkers to depression severity and responses to treatment.
As a part of the study patients were asked to call an automated telephone system and leave samples of their speech, that include telling 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 speech patterns even from remote or rural areas," James Mundt, senior research scientist at the Centre for Psychological Consultation in Wisconsin, US, who collaborated with Vogel has been quoted as saying.
"We know that depressed patients have difficulties expressing themselves, so if we can improve how we assess depression, then we can improve how we treat it," Mundt said.