SANE Australia has developed a ground-breaking app which aims to detect the early onset of Manic episodes, making it much easier to identify and manage, and prevent often damaging consequences for people living with Bipolar Disorder.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar is characterised by two distinct “mood states” – Mania, and Depression. “Mania” usually lasts for a period of a few weeks. When someone is manic, they may feel “high” and full of energy, ideas, and inspiration. They may feel like they are indestructible and partake in risky behaviours. They think (and often talk) very quickly and erratically, and their thoughts may become quite disorganised and difficult to follow for other people. Whilst manic, people often find it very difficult to sleep and will function on only a couple of hours sleep per night until they exhaust themselves. As a result, they can be very irritable and may say or do things which they wouldn’t normally, leading to problems with loved ones. You can read more about Bipolar Disorder here at CheckPoint, and at SANE.
How Does the SANE App Work?
Manic episodes are often detected too late to intervene with preventative action and harm minimisation strategies. This app works by tracking how a person uses their digital devices in real-time, and detecting any changes in their usual patterns of behaviour. If harmful patterns of use are detected, potentially indicating the onset of a manic episode, the app will notify the individual, a nominated trusted person, and a health professional as well if they choose. This real-time data will allow trusted individuals and health professionals to provide the greatest opportunity of management and the minimisation of negative consequences for the individual. Timely action with manic episodes saves lives, and prevents avoidable tragedies, and this app will provide a much earlier opportunity to act than previously available.
The app was announced on Thursday March 30, which is World Bipolar Day. SANE Australia Chief Executive Officer Jack Heath said that this app is the first in Australia to utilise real time mobile data tracking, and make this data available to nominated trusted others.
During periods of mania, I lose sight of the priorities in my life, the ability to listen to those around me, and I’m not able to manage my life effectively. All I want to do is ‘feed the high’, whether that be by excessive spending, drinking, overworking, not sleeping, or any other means, I just want to run wild.
New technology, such as this early detection app, provide an incredibly valuable opportunity to identify the potential of a manic episode, alert a nominated loved one or mental health professional, and then address the symptoms with early intervention, before they become problematic.
How Can I Get Involved?
This new technology has been developed by SANE in consultation with the University of NSW Department of Psychiatry and Isobar to develop this important initiative, Technology experts, and with the support and guidance of people living with bipolar disorder. SANE Australia are currently running a trial to test the effectiveness of the app, and they are calling for 400 people to take part in a three-month non-clinical trial of the app commencing in July. People interested in taking part of the trial can register their interest here at SANE.
If you’ve been affected by anything here on CheckPoint and would like to talk to someone, please refer to our Global Mental Health Directory, or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.