Ensembles of BERT for Depression Classification

Saskia Senn, ML Tlachac, Ricardo Flores, Elke A. Rundensteiner
44th International Conference of IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC), 2022

Depression is among the most prevalent mental health disorders with increasing prevalence worldwide. While early detection is critical for the prognosis of depression treatment, detecting depression is challenging. Previous deep learning research has thus begun to detect depression with the transcripts of clinical interview questions. Since approaches using Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) have demonstrated particular promise, we hypothesize that ensembles of BERT variants will improve depression detection. Thus, in this research, we compare the depression classification abilities of three BERT variants and four ensembles of BERT variants on the transcripts of responses to 12 clinical interview questions. Specifically, we implement the ensembles with different ensemble strategies, number of model components, and architectural layer combinations. Our results demonstrate that ensembles increase mean F1 scores and robustness across clinical interview data. This research highlights the potential of ensembles to detect depression with text which is important to guide future development of healthcare application ecosystems.