Schizophrenia is a complicated disorder that affects the way someone perceives everything and everybody around them. It can fundamentally alter the way that someone thinks, feels and behaves, and it can have a profound effect on their ability to function in daily life or work.
Schizophrenia typically emerges in late adolescence and early adulthood, and it can be challenging to diagnose for a number of reasons.
What makes it hard to diagnose schizophrenia?
The symptoms can vary greatly from one person to another, and some people with the illness are capable of hiding their delusions or disordered thinking for a while – especially if they have any paranoia that affects how they see their physicians and are distrustful.
Schizophrenia is also largely a “diagnosis of exclusion.” Psychiatric evaluations can be used to observe a patient’s behavior and gain insight into their thoughts, but physical exams and imaging tests, such as MRIs and CT scans, are mostly used to rule out other conditions that can produce similar symptoms.
How could AI make the process easier?
AI can potentially help with the early detection of schizophrenia by analyzing various data sources, such as speech patterns, text communication and even facial expressions. Changes in these areas can be indicative of mental health conditions.
Recently, scientists at the UCL Institute for Neurology have developed AI tools that can look for signs of schizophrenia in speech patterns. The AI model they developed looks at individual responses to different verbal fluency tasks to see if they’re predictable based on the way that people normally respond. Their research indicates that there are sharp differences in predictability between people with and without the disorder.
This could ultimately help people with schizophrenia receive earlier diagnoses, and it could provide them with objective evidence of their disorder. That may also eventually make it easier for those who have this disorder to qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), as well.