AI voice coach may help treat depression, anxiety.

ISLAMABAD -- Artificial intelligence (AI) could be a useful tool in mental health treatment, according to a new study.

The study, which was the first to test an AI voice-based virtual coach for behavioural therapy, found changes in patients' brain activity along with improved depression and anxiety symptoms after using Lumen -- an AI voice assistant that delivered a form of psychotherapy.

The results, published in the journal Translational Psychiatry, offer encouraging evidence that virtual therapy can play a role in filling the gaps in mental health care, where waitlists and disparities in access are often hurdles that patients, particularly from vulnerable communities, must overcome to receive treatment.

"We've had an incredible explosion of need, especially in the wake of Covid, with soaring rates of anxiety and depression and not enough practitioners," said Dr. Olusola A. Ajilore, professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC).

"This kind of technology may serve as a bridge. It's not meant to be a replacement for traditional therapy, but it may be an important stop-gap before somebody can seek treatment," Ajilore added.

The researchers recruited over 60 patients for the clinical study exploring the application's effect on mild-to-moderate depression and anxiety symptoms, and activity in brain areas previously shown to be...

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