Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy

Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy

What's up?-study. An early-warning for children and adolescents with major depression

'Tackling depression before it's onset'

Video about the project: Link.

Major depression is a common and severe mental illness in childhood and adolescence (early-onset) as well as in adulthood. Late treatment of the early-onset depression is associated with a high tendency to recurrence, chronicity and suicidal behaviour in youth but also later in life. Although effective prevention and therapy programmes exist, the need for child and adolescent psychiatric care remains high. A possible explanation is that the core problem has not been solved yet: recognizing the beginning of a depressive episode before it becomes manifest.

Aim: In the long run, we aim to create an app that combines an early-warning system and a support system for depressive disorders in childhood and adolescence. For this purpose, various psychophysiological and behavioral data are collected and analysed using machine learning. These data can be easily obtained in everyday life using smartphones and wearables. The results of the analysis gives us an idea about the current depressive state and canl be used for prevention and therapy, e.g. by displaying intervention suggestions on the user's smartphone.

Pilot study: In June 2018 we started a first pilot study that focuses on the correlation between depressive symptoms and smartphone usage as well as WhatsApp usage. For example, we will assess how often the smartphone itself is used, the activity (via GPS) and how WhatsApp is used. Moreover, we will analyse the language used in WhatsApp, e.g. how often negative valence is expressed in the chat protocols in depressed vs. non-depressed adolescents. Since April 2019 we started the next study phase enrolling youth with a current depression.

Data protection: Data protection is our priority. The study has been approved by a data protection officer at the University hospital Tübingen.

Project leadership: Dipl.-Psych. Stefan Lüttke
Funding: Crowdfunding and donations
Collaborations: University Würzburg (Dr. M. Seufert, Anika Schwind), University Leipzig (Prof. Dr. J. Schmitz), Technical University Dresden (Prof. Dr. S. Knappe), University Hospital Würzburg (Dr. A. Bürger), 100 Worte GmbH.

Support our work!

The What's up? project has so far been supported exclusively by donations of generous people and companies. If you would like to support our research in predicting depression in children and adolescents before it onset, you can make a gift to:
University of Tübingen
IBAN: DE1364150020000000013004
Reason for transfer: 3139003501 Lüttke Donation Whats up Study
Donation receipts: From 201 EUR the University of Tübingen issues a donation receipt. If you would like to receive a receipt, please also write your address in the reason for transfer field or contact the project leader, Stefan Lüttke, personally.