Here’s how your Oura Ring could detect depression

Oura Ring

Smartwatches and smart rings can tell you a lot about your physical health, but in the future, devices like the Oura Ring might even be able to detect depression.

In a recent study published in the journal Nature, researchers sought out to determine whether body temperature variations could signal the severity of depression in human subjects. The results they found were promising.


As the researchers noted, “correlations between altered body temperature and depression have been reported in small samples.” In other words, body temperature may be a clue to depression, or at least depression severity.

More specifically, the researchers were examining whether severe depression symptoms were associated with:

  • Higher body temperature
  • Smaller differences between sleeping and waking body temperature
  • Lower diurnal body temperature amplitude — or the difference between the maximum and minimum body temperatures throughout the day.

To do so, they looked at both self-reported body temperature data from study participants, wearable-derived body temperature like, and self-reported depressive symptoms. The study examined 20,000 participants over the course of  about seven months.

The researchers pulled data from the TemPredict Study from March 2020, which researchers originally developed to assess whether wearables could reliably screen for COVID-19 infection.

After analyzing the data, the researchers found that there was a correlation between body temperature and depression. That’s a sign that smart devices like the Oura Ring may be able to detect depression or symptom severity in the future.

“Higher self-reported and wearable sensor-assessed body temperatures when awake were associated with greater depression symptom severity,” the team wrote. “Lower diurnal body temperature amplitude, computed using wearable sensor-assessed distal body temperature data, tended to be associated with greater depression symptom severity.”

In theory, any smart device that collects body temperature data over a period of time could track depression severity. So while the Oura Ring may be able to detect depression, devices like the Fitbit or Apple Watch could, too.

Past body temperature health features

Many different wearables can measure body temperature, including the Oura Ring, recent Apple Watches, and some Fitbit models. None of them screen for depression yet. But, there are some signs that smart devices could passively monitor body temperature to improve health.

For example, the Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Series 9 can use temperature data to improve period predictions and ovulation estimates in their Cycle Tracking features. A Stanford study from 2021 also found that a temperature-sensing wristband could provide early detection of infectious diseases like COVID-19.


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