Is possible diagnose a severe mental disorder several years after the onset of symptoms? If so, what implications would this have for both the clinic and the person at risk of developing them?
In a recently developed study, it was used speech analysis software to try to predict the risk of psychosis. Throughout this article we will be talking about this new computer program which is still under research and development.
What is psychosis?
In the field of psychology and psychiatry, psychosis refers to a state of mental disorder or serious mental disorder in which the person is living. a loss of contact with reality and to the detriment of normative social functioning.
This disorder refers to a number of serious disorders, in which the person can manifest themselves hallucinations of all kinds, as well as delusions, Personality disorders and disorganized thinking and language.
In addition, it is possible that this symptomatology is accompanied by unusual or unusual behaviors in the person, as well as problems in establishing and maintaining any type of interaction with other people, resulting in obstruction and interfering with the daily life of the patient. nobody.
It should be emphasized that psychosis is not a unique mental disorder; rather, it encompasses any classification of psychiatric conditions known as psychotic disorders. These mental disorders include:
- Schizophreniform disorder.
- Shared psychotic disorder.
- Substance-Induced Psychotic Disorder.
- Psychotic disorder due to a medical illness.
What does this software consist of?
As mentioned above, disorganized thinking is one of the main symptoms psychosis. This, which is exteriorized by the patient’s disorganized speech, can be assessed by oral clinical interviews with the patient.
This disorganized thinking stands out because the patient’s speech becomes tangential and a loss of associations of the ideas expressed. As a result, the patient may exhibit confused and inconsistent speech, in addition to continually jumping from one idea to another.
Following these facts, a study conducted in collaboration with the New York Psychiatric Institute, Columbia University Medical Center and IBM TJ Watson Research Center, assessed and compare the transcripts of a series of interviews with young people at risk of developing psychosis.
During the study, the interviews of 34 participants from New York and 59 participants from the city of Los Angeles, for whom the start of the study was estimated, were evaluated using software from psychosis speech analysis over the next two years.
After analyzing the interviews, it was found that the software was able to differentiate well between young people in whom there was a real risk of developing psychosis and those who were not, in most cases.
According to experts in the analysis of pathological behavior of people, 1% of the population aged 14 to 27 is at risk of developing psychosis. These people tend to show symptoms as such unusual thoughts, tangential speech, altered perception and suspicious reactions to other people.
About 20% of this at-risk population will experience a psychotic episode; early detection accompanied by psychological intervention could therefore help to reduce the impact of this episode, or even prevent it.
Speech as a key to detection
Within psychology and psychiatry, both language and behavior they provide a wealth of key information in the diagnosis of any type of mental disorder.
In the case of psychosis, the patient’s oral language is an excellent source of information about what is going on in the person’s mind. Provide important clues about what the person experiences, feels and perceives.
In the study referenced above, patients were asked to share their subjective experiences. These conversations were then transcribed and analyzed using speech assessment software.
According to the researchers, this software analyzed expression patterns, semantics and syntax used by the participant. As well as the length of the sentences and the correct use of the words used to connect the expressions.
It should be noted that a clinical psychiatrist or mental health professional is able to recognize these signs or symptoms manually, through a face-to-face interview with the patient. However, the development of this software involves an increase in precision by taking into account more variables and more rigorously.
What were the results of the study?
Once the interviews and analyzes were carried out, the participants were followed for two and a half years.
The reviewers who conducted this study found a number of key qualities or traits in the conversations that predict future mental problems 83% of the time.
Specifically, the characteristics of oral language that predicted the onset of psychosis were alterations in the flow of meaning between sentences. Focus on sentences that are shorter than usual and with much less elaboration.
After these results, the researchers place their hope that thanks to this software early and reliable detections of these more subtle symptoms can be made which can appear even several years before the psychotic disorder develops.
Implications of this software in clinical practice
In the field of clinical diagnosis in psychology and psychiatry, the possibility of using a computer program that helps and facilitates the early detection of severe mental disorders is very good news.
In this way, it will be possible to speed up the tasks of diagnosis and prognosis of serious mental disorders, and thus design treatment and early intervention proposals that reduce the impact of symptoms. Moreover, another advantage that researchers attribute to this software is that this analysis is performed quickly, innocently and with very low economic costs.
However, the researchers themselves warn that this is only a prototype and that it still takes time to make it into a fully reliable diagnostic tool.