What do you think of human psychology? Isn’t it strange how just a song or a conversation can influence our mood? Since the beginning of the 18thcentury, humans have been trying to figure out what governs emotions and behavior and this quest has continued to date. Talking of psychiatry, the rising mental health crisis cannot be ignored. As talked about in the previous blog, the shortage of psychologists and increasing cases of mental health have necessitated the use of advanced technological tools such as artificial intelligence in this field. But most of us still have bizarre thoughts about using a machine as a therapist. Is it a waste of time? Is it effective? What about the negative implications? Well, EMBS brings you a solution to all such queries.
Treatment of any disease consists of steps like diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment. Since AI specializes in collecting and categorizing a large amount of data, it can be used in any step to improve treatment efficiency. Most of its usable and accessible forms include chatbots, digital phenotyping, natural language processing, personal sensing, etc.
To date, smartphones have been accused of ruining our health but recently scientists have been trying to use them for disease detection. Mental disorders are mainly caused by hormonal imbalance which reflects in behavioral changes. Via some apps, AI can use images, language, speech, texts, tone, and other behavioral representatives for the diagnosis of mental disorders. A tool named EARS (Effortless Assessment of Risk States) identifies people with mental stress and suicidal risks with the help of smartphone data. And not just in circumstantial crisis, AI has also been used for genetic disorders like schizophrenia. A machine learning tool could detect schizophrenic individuals by their speech patterns. It was found to be 83% precise in psychosis prediction. Although a lot of progress has been made, computational psychiatry could still undergo advancements when it comes to generalizing the criteria and improved sensitivity.
It is common for people to be stressed/anxious and not be aware of the fact. AI can help here as well. The behavioral changes allow us to leave at least 1000 different types of biomarkers like typing speed and language, voice tones, choices, content followed, etc. After the user’s consent, data can be collected from his/her smartphone to monitor changes in behavior over a certain period. Certain incidents like cyberbullying etc can also cause depression and anxiety amongst the younger generation. Bark is a tool that allows monitoring such incidents and resulting signs of any disorder.
Mental disorders can be scary. People often do not wish to talk about it out of the fear of a lack of understanding and empathy. Techniques like virtual reality and emotional AI-based chatbots seem to be revolutionizing the treatment of psychiatric disorders. AI friends like ReplikaorWoebotare helping in overcoming negative emotions and uplifting mood. These bots can also use complex therapeutic methodologies like CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) (Eg: Pacifica, Moodkit) and debt (dialectic behavioral therapy) (Eg: Wysa) for mood improvement and thought management. Other such examples include SAM, PTSD coach, IntelliCare, MY3, Quartet, Ginger, CompanionMX, etc.
Virtual reality takes us to a whole other realm by using our sensory organs. We have all heard of VR games like Beat Saber, Tetris effect, Arizona sunshine, etc. Wouldn’t it be fun if these games could be used for therapeutic purposes? Jane McGonigal, a TED speaker, has website games for change. It has a health category that contains much mental health education and improvement games. Her own game, Super Better also serves the same function. Game-based therapies are especially useful for adolescents mainly because of their interests and accessibility. Using similar themes, VR has been proved to be effective in the treatment of anxieties and phobias. The hypothetical environment creates scary situations for patients along with some safety measures to get over the paranoia caused. VRs like Psious and Limelight can act as trainers for people with the fear of public speaking. Bravemind is helping soldiers to get over PTSD.
AI is of huge help not only to the patients but also to the psychiatrists by tracing and identifying symptoms in a shorter time. But what exactly is involved behind the scenes? What sort of Deep learning methodologies make it possible? Which algorithm makes this startling connection between humans and machines that goes beyond the laws of nature? Stay tuned for our final issue on the series to know about the science and techniques involved in bringing this marvelous therapist to reality!!!