Doctors may not be as good at diagnosing depression as ChatGPT. Is the use of AI chatbots in mental health the future? According to recent study, chatbots driven by artificial intelligence (AI), like ChatGPT, may be a key component in solving the issue of mental health treatments being inaccessible. Still, there are worries about misdiagnosis or underdiagnosis, which call for more research.
Depression is a common mental health issue; in Europe and the US, antidepressant prescriptions are given to a large percentage of adult patients each year. The degree of a patient’s depression dictates the kind of care they receive; primary care doctors usually make this determination based on the patient’s symptoms. It’s still difficult to tell the difference between normal distress and actual anxiety or depression disorders, though.
Inbar Levkovich and Zohar Elyoseph, researchers in this field, sought to assess how ChatGPT would perform in diagnosing depression compared to primary care physicians. They utilized case vignettes, representative descriptions of individuals seeking initial consultation for symptoms like sadness, sleep problems, and loss of appetite over the past three weeks. ChatGPT-3.5 and ChatGPT-4 were trained on these vignettes, and their therapeutic recommendations were compared with those of primary care physicians.
The results were surprising. ChatGPT’s recommendations were found to align with accepted guidelines for both mild and severe depression treatment, without being influenced by biases related to gender or social class. This discovery suggests that ChatGPT has the potential to enhance primary care physicians’ decision-making in depression treatment. However, the researchers stressed the necessity for further research to evaluate the technology’s effectiveness in managing severe cases and to address associated risks and ethical concerns.
In a related development, the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) attempted to utilize an AI chatbot to support individuals with eating disorders, aiming to enhance accessibility to assistance. However, this move faced challenges, with the chatbot providing troubling advice to users, indicating the need for cautious implementation and continuous monitoring of AI chatbot applications in mental health.
The study, titled ‘Identifying depression and its determinants upon initiating treatment: ChatGPT versus primary care physicians,’ was published in the peer-reviewed journal Family Medicine and Community Health. The research sheds light on the potential of AI chatbots like ChatGPT to revolutionize mental health care, emphasizing the necessity for continued research and responsible integration to ensure safe and effective utilization.