Meet Petrushka, the AI psychiatrist who will prescribe antidepressants

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Oxford University's department of psychiatry is trying Petrushka, an AI algorithm, to personalise depression treatment. It will use the data of a million people to prescribe an antidepressant for each person.

 Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford)

AI is now helping find accurate medication for depression. (Image: Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford)

India Today World Desk

New Delhi,UPDATED: May 20, 2024 22:26 IST

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is making conversations, writing books, creating videos, and much more. Now, it seems it can take care of our mental health too. AI tools will help prescribe better medications for depression in the UK.

Oxford University's department of psychiatry is trying an AI tool called: Petrushka and it aims to personalise treating depression. It will use the data of a million people to prescribe an antidepressant for each person, reports the BBC.

The team will have 200 people by the summer and 500 in total. Petrushka will use gender, age, symptoms, severity and such criteria along with side effects to personalise treatment.

Researchers claim it is an "innovative way to empower patients and share decision-making during the treatment process".

"In real-world practice, antidepressants are usually prescribed based on the clinician’s knowledge. There are more than 30 antidepressants on the market but nine times out of 10 GPs [general practitioners] prescribe one of just four antidepressants", Professor Andrea Cipriani told the BBC.

This means not all patients get adequate treatment.

"We want to treat individuals, not averages. We want to be as precise as possible and identify the best treatment for each patient sooner based on what we know works for patients with similar characteristics, rather than wasting time trying treatments that might be less effective."

Patients can enrol themselves for the trial, which starts with a brief screening procedure. It is being carried out in the UK, Canada and Brazil.

"The study lasts 24 weeks in total, but after eight weeks we will see how many participants are still taking the allocated treatment. This measure will tell us how acceptable and well tolerated a treatment is," said Nyla Haque, the trial manager.

Information will also be collected about the mood, anxiety, quality of life and side effects in the process of the trial. It is being funded by the Institute for Health and Care Research.


AI will also help with better patient handling and care. This means healthcare professionals will get trained in measuring blood pressure, using injections, inserting catheters with the help of AI robots, reports the BBC.

These stimulators will interact through artificial intelligence and will help Darlington College health and social care students learn better.

They detect and react to speech, and will reply to healthcare professionals. "Students will be able to ask them questions, take their pulse and even shock them with a defibrillator", said lecturer, Sarah Lloyd.

They are equipped to react to a variety of health conditions: from a headache to heart problems. In June, they will walk in to the college's state-of-the-art healthcare training, which includes a hospital ward, GP clinic and a nursing home.

The students will now acquaint themselves with workplace settings and practice patient handling and care. These patients are made to "build critical thinking and decision-making" and comprise: men, women and children of different sizes and ages.

One of the fields where AI is supposed to be truly path-breaking is medicine and healthcare. That seems to be happening.

Published By:

India Today Web Desk

Published On:

May 20, 2024

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