Language analysis software can help detect post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans based on their speech, a study suggests.
Doctors have long understood that people with psychiatric disorders can speak differently than people who do not have mental health problems, researchers note in depression and anxiety. While some previous studies point to the possibility of different speech patterns among people with PTSD, it has been unclear whether depression, which often accompanies PTSD, can explain the unique speech characteristics.
MOM & AVOCADO HAND & MISHAP RESULTS IN WHOLE TENDON, SLICED ARTERY  In the current study, voice analysis programs discovered which veterans had PTSD and who did not have an accuracy of 89 percent.
"Those with PTSD spoke slower (slower heavy movements), were more monotonous with fewer vocal outbreaks, were less animated and energetic (lifeless) in their speech, and had longer hesitation and a flatter tone," said lead study author Dr. Charles Marmar, President of Psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine in New York.
"Our findings suggest that speech-based properties can be used to diagnose this disease, and with further refinement and validation can be employed in the clinic in the near future," said marble via email.
Marble team used an artificial intelligence program that "teaches" how to classify individuals based on examples of speech.
First, researchers registered hour-long interviews based on questions that were often asked by clinicians to diagnose PTSD. In total, the 53 Iraqi and Iraqi veterans interviewed PTSD for their service and 78 veterans without the disease.
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Then they fed the footage into voice analysis programs developed by the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) International, designers of "Siri" App, providing a total of 40,526 number-based functions captured in short chat.
Software linked patterns of specific speech properties with PTSD, including less clear speech and a lifeless metallic tone, both of which had long been anecdotally reported as useful in the diagnosis.
While the study did not investigate the disease mechanisms behind PTSD, the theory is that traumatic events alter brain circuits that treat emotions and muscle tones that affect a person's voice, the study team writes.
The study was small and it was not designed to prove whether or how PTSD can cause tly causing changes in vocal patterns. It is also possible that the results may be different for people who experienced trauma that is not related to military service, such as sexual assault or natural disasters.
Other warning signs about PTSD may also be easier for family members to spot, Dr. Ronald Pies of Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston.
"I think more generally, observable indicators of trauma are more relevant in such cases," Pies, who was not involved in the study, said via email. "Noting that a family member exposed to a recent trauma seems to be unusually irritable, aggressive, monitoring, or reporting nightmare, trauma feedback, or social withdrawal or depression … would warrant a clinical assessment." [1
But it may not be too far in the future that a tool it tested in the study could be a way to identify people to be evaluated for PTSD, said US Army Captain Jeffrey Osgood of the Center for Military Psychiatry and Neuroscience at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.
"In a perfect world, I see this technology being used as a warning tool for PTSD," Osgood, who was not involved in the study, said via email.
It is possible that a version of the software tested in the study could be readily available, perhaps as a smartphone app, to analyze a person's speech during and after highly stressful or traumatic experiences and to flag potentia I have problems with patients or clinicians, Osgood said.
"This could lead to a more thorough screening and early intervention," Osgood said. "But several studies are needed before clinicians can safely use this tool to help diagnose."