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Title: Association between acoustic speech features and non-severe levels of anxiety and depression symptoms across lifespan
Author: Albuquerque, Luciana
Valente, Ana Rita S.
Teixeira, António
Figueiredo, Daniela
Sá Couto, Pedro
Oliveira, Catarina
Keywords: Adult
Aged, 80 and over
Cross-sectional studies
Middle aged
Speech acoustics
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Abstract: Background Several studies have investigated the acoustic effects of diagnosed anxiety and depression. Anxiety and depression are not characteristics of the typical aging process, but minimal or mild symptoms can appear and evolve with age. However, the knowledge about the association between speech and anxiety or depression is scarce for minimal/mild symptoms, typical of healthy aging. As longevity and aging are still a new phenomenon worldwide, posing also several clinical challenges, it is important to improve our understanding of non-severe mood symptoms’ impact on acoustic features across lifetime. The purpose of this study was to determine if variations in acoustic measures of voice are associated with non-severe anxiety or depression symptoms in adult population across lifetime. Methods Two different speech tasks (reading vowels in disyllabic words and describing a picture) were produced by 112 individuals aged 35-97. To assess anxiety and depression symptoms, the Hospital Anxiety Depression Scale (HADS) was used. The association between the segmental and suprasegmental acoustic parameters and HADS scores were analyzed using the linear multiple regression technique. Results The number of participants with presence of anxiety or depression symptoms is low (>7: 26.8% and 10.7%, respectively) and non-severe (HADS-A: 5.4 ± 2.9 and HADS-D: 4.2 ± 2.7, respectively). Adults with higher anxiety symptoms did not present significant relationships associated with the acoustic parameters studied. Adults with increased depressive symptoms presented higher vowel duration, longer total pause duration and short total speech duration. Finally, age presented a positive and significant effect only for depressive symptoms, showing that older participants tend to have more depressive symptoms. Conclusions Non-severe depression symptoms can be related to some acoustic parameters and age. Depression symptoms can be explained by acoustic parameters even among individuals without severe symptom levels.
Peer review: yes
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0248842
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