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AI brings psychiatry into the 21st century
By Eleni Natsi  |  Nov 03, 2022
AI brings psychiatry into the 21st century
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AI is disrupting many different industries and redefining what is possible, and psychiatry is no exception. Journalist and AI expert Eleni Natsi examines which aspects of mental healthcare are undergoing the most change, how these changes are taking place, and what this means for the treatment of mental health disorders going forward.

ATHENS - Psychiatry, the branch of medicine focused on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental disorders, is currently undergoing a disruption. For decades, even centuries, this discipline has been based largely on subjective observation.

Traditionally, the diagnosis of psychiatric disorders has largely relied on patients’ self-reported symptoms and medical history, as well as on physician-patient questionnaires that are often inaccurate and ineffective in providing a reliable assessment of symptoms.

To further complicate matters, patients with the same diagnosis can often experience different symptoms. Furthermore, mental healthcare providers generally do not have the specific biomarkers or clear imaging findings indicating mental health pathology to be able to make a diagnosis.

Fortunately, this is beginning to change thanks to the emerging discipline of computational psychiatry, which uses powerful data analysis, machine learning (ML), and artificial intelligence (AI) to uncover the underlying factors behind mental health-related illnesses.

AI diagnoses, predicts, and treats psychiatric disorders

AI is being used by psychiatry researchers to develop a better understanding of mental illness and create more effective and personalized treatment plans. Sarah Fineberg and her colleagues at Yale University have been using natural-language processing to identify language features that mark psychological states and traits among patients with borderline personality disorder, a condition that affects almost 2 percent of the population at any time.

Borderline personality disorder is characterized by an inability to form stable relationships, an unstable sense of self, and unstable emotions. People with this diagnosis are significantly more likely to harm themselves, and some 10 percent end up committing sui

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