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Detecting an Approaching Manic Episode? There’s an App For That, Too


Mania is a period of “great excitement, euphoria, delusions, and overactivity,” by definition. For those who experience mania as a solitary disorder or part of manic-depressive order, also known as bipolar, mania is a high, beyond the atmosphere with feelings of invincibility. Running at a thousand feet per second, other people often wonder just where the mind of someone with bipolar is going. Typically, the manic mind is going far off beyond rationalization. Coming up with big ideas and elaborate plans with sure footedness is common during a manic episode. Characterized by high energy, compulsive behaviors, and aggressive personality, mania should be seen coming from a mile away. For many with bipolar disorder, it can feel like the go to sleep depressed and wake up manic. There might be some warning signs before the shift occurs, like the way they text on their smartphones.

Researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago have created Affect, a smartphone app which analyzes a user’s keystrokes in real time and detects if they are approaching or in the middle of a manic episode. Chicago Inno reports, “…the app unobtrusively analyzes keystroke dynamics such as typing speed, frequency of texting, and social media use.” According to the research, originally conducted by the University of Michigan, “…more erratic typing (such as ignoring spell check) correlates with a manic episode, while shorter messages correlate with a depressive episode.” The typing could be considered a manifestation of a common bipolar mania behavior of “jammed speech”. After a depressive episode where one might be socially withdrawn, isolated, and emotionally numb, they are chock full of thoughts, feelings, emotions, opinions, and arguments. Jammed speech refers to the unrelenting flow of verbal communication which, in the technological age, might be expressed through text. “During a manic episode, people with bipolar exhibit some common behaviors,” one researcher explains, “such as talking really, really fast, with diminished self-control and flight of ideas.” These behaviors naturally translate to technology, the researcher explains. “It is thus natural that they also exhibit similar abnormalities in non-verbal communications that are typed on their phones.”

Tracking behaviors which indicate mania and depression could be helpful in creating a great sense of self-awareness in those with bipolar as well as their family members. There is no way for someone with bipolar to stop the shift from depression to mania, however, they can learn tools for better regulating those shifts and managing themselves effectively in between.

 

At Enlightened Recovery Solutions, we welcome clients with bipolar and substance use disorders to our partial care programs where they can find compassionate therapy in a comfortable and soothing environment. Thriving on empathy, clients find empowerment through are alternative, clinical, and holistic therapies, designed to heal the spirit. For information, call us today at 833-801-5483.