Projekte / Science
Major depression is a common mental disorder in children and adolescents. About 20% of the population will experience a depressive episode at least once in their lives. Especially tragic: Suicide is the second leading cause of death among children and adolescents. We want to change that! Our idea: We will create an early-warning system for apps that you don't even notice in everyday life. We simply use the communication via WhatsApp and the smartphone. To get started, we need your help!
13,668 €
10,000 € 2nd Funding goal
Project successful


Funding period 05/12/2017 13:40 o'clock - 05/03/2018 23:59 o'clock
Realisation period 01.03.18 - 01.03.2021
Funding goal reached 5,000 €
2nd Funding goal reached 10,000 €
Reaching this Funding goal means that we are able to start the study with few participants & gain important knowledge to further our mission.
We conduct a more comprehensive study & start to create an early-warning system app. With far more than 10.000 € we could create the system entirely.
City Tübingen
Category Science

What is this project all about?

Our project aims to identify first signs of depression in children and adolescents. Because it is only with an early diagnosis that we have a chance to intervene at an early stage.

For this purpose we want to use WhatsApp: we know from research that people write "differently" when being in a depressive episode, for example they use more negative words. People also withdraw from friends and family when they feel depressed; thus, they probably communicate less using their smartphones. This altered user behaviour may also be fruitful for the recognition of a depression.

In our “What's up?” study we want to investigate whether children and youth with depression communicate "differently" via WhatsApp compared to young people who are doing well. With the results, we want to create an app as early-warning system that automatically evaluates the chats and use of WhatsApp or other instant messengers.

The best thing about it: You won't notice the app at all. Only when first signs of depression occurs, the early warning system will alert the user and suggest what is best to do now.

What is the project goal and who is the project for?

Our goals are:

  • Early recognition of depression in adolescents
  • To intervene much earlier than before in order to prevent serious course of the disease
  • To create a help at the "pulse of time" and especially for children and young people
  • Draw attention to depression in childhood and adolescence

Our app is designed for all children and adolescents who are vulnerable for depression. But the app could also be helpful for adults with depression.

Why would you support this project?

We want to fundamentally improve the early detection of depression, especially among the weakest - children and adolescents. So we can treat faster and more efficient. This is urgently needed because:

  • Depression is a "widespread disease": in the course of life, 20% of the population will suffer depression (Germany: 4-5 million people are affected each year)
  • Depressive episodes are often only recognized when you are already "properly" ill; many depressive episodes could be prevented if they are just detected at an early stage.
  • With every depression, the risk of getting another increases; after the third depressive episode, the risk for a relapse is already 90%.
  • The majority of depression in adults has its roots in childhood; thus, if we help children, we also help adults.

How will we use the money if the project is successfully funded? 

With your help we can start the project successfully. This is what we will do with your support:

  • Programming a smartphone application for text analysis
  • Buy vouchers for participating children and young people
  • Paying a research assistant for the study
  • Publish study results freely accessible so that as many scientists as possible can further the idea

Who are the people behind the project?

Stefan Lüttke (University of Tuebingen, Germany)
Stefan Lüttke is psychologist and conducts research on the causes of depression, especially in children and adolescents. Moreover, Stefan treats children and youth with mental health problems. His personal motivation is: care and attention in childhood is the basis to withstand the storms of adulthood.

More about Stefan Lüttke

Anika Schwind und Dr. Michael Seufert (University of Wuerzburg, Germany)
Anika Schwind and Michael Seufert are researchers at the Chair of Communication Networks at the University of Würzburg. They investigate the subjective quality of popular Internet services and try to improve them with network traffic management. To this end, they are investigating the communication behavior in WhatsApp. Among other things, they have developed the WhatsAnalyzer.

More about WhatsAnalyzer

More to Anika Schwind

More to Michael Seufert

Legal notice
Universität Tübingen Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät FB Psychologie Klinische Psychologie und Psychotherapie
Stefan Lüttke
Schleichstr. 4
72076 Tübingen Deutschland

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