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Mood disorders? The Pasteur Institute creates a test application

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Following World Bipolar Disorder Day, researchers at the Institut Pasteur announce the development of a mobile application to measure the activity of mood disorders, particularly bipolar disorders. Resulting from clinical research and developed by doctors and researchers, the system You entered clinical feasibility testing on Monday, April 2. The application will be used by approximately 100 patients over the next few months. The objective of this study is to validate the relevance of this tool in daily clinical practice with people with mood disorders.
 
Aood disorders, such as bipolar disorder and depression, are severe psychiatric illnesses affecting approximately 5 to 10% of the world's population. The word "mood" is most often used after the words "disorders of". This is not surprising, as mood is a primary component of enormous human suffering.
The underlying pathophysiological mechanisms are still misunderstood. Bipolar disorders are characterized by recurrent episodes of mood exaltation (mania) and depressive states, with marked disturbances in emotional regulation, psychomotor and cognitive activity. These disorders are associated with a high risk of relapse and hospitalization, particularly due to therapeutic interventions late in the onset of symptoms and partial responses to treatment.
 
Mood is a state of mind dominated by an emotion, such as anger, sadness or joy. But moods differ from acute emotional states in that they are more long-lasting, and are detached from any immediate triggers. This does not mean that an individual's mood is not related to his or her environment. On the contrary, mood seems to be a function of integrating the body's acute emotional experiences over time. Emotions can be pleasant or unpleasant, and sometimes painful. Usually we feel that we are in control of our emotions. A person with a mood disorder feels negative emotions more intensely and for longer periods of time than most people. They may feel that they have more difficulty controlling their emotions, which affects their mental and physical health and influences their behaviour. The consequences impact work, family and social obligations.
 
How do you heal? To date, there are four possible categories of treatment: therapeutic communication, medication, cognitive therapy, psychotherapy. Traditionally, assessments of mood disorders are carried out using clinical interviews and are based on patients' responses that may be approximate due to recall bias. In research terms, this limits the ability to collect and process data over long periods of time.
 

Researchers from the Perception and Memory unit of the Institut Pasteur (headed by Pierre-Marie Lledo, CNRS Research Director), developed the system You with a mobile application to measure micro-variations of mood in real time in an individual, in a perspective of longitudinal evaluation of the disease. This tool, the result of clinical research on people with a mood disorder, offers an innovative and non-invasive solution for measuring relevant parameters concerning behavioural, emotional and cognitive variations.
 
The application You offers the user to fill out tests assessing his mood and behaviour. In addition, the app allows the user to collect, without user intervention, thanks to the sensors of a smartphone, information about the user's physical and social activity. All this data is not only collected in real time, but can be easily transmitted, processed and stored for biomedical research to identify changes in behaviour and mood.
 
A first clinical study coordinated by the psychiatrist-researchers of the Perception and Memory Unit, Dr. Aroldo A. Dargél and Pr. Chantal Henry, began this week, Monday, April 2, 2018. Its goal is to validate the feasibility and relevance of using this tool in daily clinical practice with people with mood disorders. It was set up with the support of the Information Systems Directorate (DSI) and the Centre for Translational Research (CRT) at the Pasteur Institute.
Repeated real-time assessment of multiple parameters in patients with mood disorders will provide objective measures that should help to refine diagnoses, increase knowledge of factors predictive of treatment response, and ultimately lead to a better understanding of the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying these disorders.
Through multidisciplinary collaboration (clinicians, engineers, bioinformaticians, epidemiologists) and technological advances, the development of algorithms predictive of the dynamic nature of these disorders could help identify patients at risk of relapse or partial response to treatment.
The use of smartphones and biosensors will not only allow a better understanding of mood and behavioural variations, but should also enable patients to better understand their illness and, in conjunction with their psychiatrist, to become more active in their care.
This study received funding from AG2R La Mondiale and the Laboratoire d'Excellence Revive.
 
Other applications exist in the field of mood disorder monitoring: PsyAssistances Mood Manager, a daily mood and crisis manager (application developed with the financial support of the Fondation de l'Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal and a donation from the Bell Initiative). This app allows users who feel depressed to access a directory of resources, keep a mood diary, perform exercises to improve their well-being and establish a safety plan in case of crisis. There are already mobile applications available in other parts of the world that deal with stress and mood management in one way or another. However, most of them have not been empirically validated, offering only general advice or assessments without scientific value.
 
 

 

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