Data mining techniques are usually associated with behavioral advertising, but one team of researchers is exploring them as a method of treating mental health problems.

Researchers from the Digital Ecosystems and Business Intelligence Institute, at Curtin University of Technology, in Perth, Australia are exploring the use of data mining techniques to treat and prevent depression. Data mining, they say, can help when studying a patient's habits. They plan to publish their findings in the International Journal of Functional Informatics and Personalised Medicine.

The system uses three types of patient data and information as well as the therapist's health and interaction with the patients. The data will range from activities, bodily functions and feelings as well as their mental health. From that data the researchers will look for patterns.

Patients will be able to receive highly personalized treatments, the therapists will be assisted in making evidence-based decisions, and the scientist will be able to pursue new knowledge revealing true causes of depression whilst developing more effective treatment approaches, the team wrote in its study.

The patterns will help the researchers better understand the disease and give doctors possible preventative methods. While no two cases are alike, healthcare practitioners have observed similar patterns in depression patients before. This technique will be able to confirm or deny those feelings.

Because there are no pathogens associated with depression, and due to its growing relevance in healthcare, the team says finding factors which cause it is an important issue.