Stress, anxiety and depression are no longer subjective conditions. Now they can be quantified. Scientists from the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne have developed a sensor to measure the level of anxiety in a person by monitoring the concentration of the stress hormone cortisol in his body. They designed a sensor that is designed to be worn continuously on the body and to measure stress levels on the fly.
The technology is based on the analysis of the composition of human sweat, since sweat contains all biomarkers of the state of the body. The only question is how to measure them - the basic method for working with cortisol was developed at Stanford University a few years ago. It was a specially formulated patch that had to be applied to sweaty skin to get an instant estimate of cortisol levels.
Swiss scientists have gone further and developed a sensor that measures cortisol levels in real time and on a continuous basis. This is made possible by the use of a supersensitive graphene electrode placed inside the same patch that sticks to the skin. It can be worn indefinitely and collect data over long periods of time to correlate it with specific events in a person's life and identify stressors.
The key advantage of the technology is precisely the ability to track in detail fluctuations in cortisol levels, which naturally vary greatly throughout the day. Also, fluctuations in hormonal levels indicate physiological ailments, and not just emotional experiences, so their analysis is very difficult even for specialists. The sensor has already passed laboratory tests and is now being sent to hospitals in Lausanne for testing on real patients with stress disorders.