Are Smartphone Apps a Useful Depression Treatment?

Last modified: August 2, 2019

Richard Honaker M.D.
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As reported by a recent study, the alleviation of depression symptoms could be just within everyone’s reach. The study that was published in the journal World Psychiatry has revealed that some smartphone apps can be very helpful in reducing an app user’s depression.

The effective smartphone apps were equipped in the direction of mild to moderate depression treatment. Is this a useful depression treatment for everyone? How often do you use smartphone apps?

Let see what the research says in the following . . .

Smartphone Apps Depression Treatment Study of Over 3,200 Adult Men

There were a total of 18 randomized experiments. The Australian researchers investigated over 3,400 adult men and women who have reported having different mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.

The team asked the volunteers to use 22 different mental health programs on smartphone apps throughout a few weeks to a few months, depending on the smartphone apps.

There were mindfulness apps that concentrated on cognitive behavioral therapy methods and smartphone apps that helped participants in keeping track of their moods like digital programs Headspace or MoodHacker.

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Based from the results, the authors of the study stated that there was no notable difference in the type of the smartphone apps. Each of them was effective in remarkably reducing depression symptoms.

They have also discovered that self-contained apps, which are smartphone apps that don’t depend on clinician feedback or interaction, were more effective than those that depended on the mentioned resources.

Are Smartphone Apps a Useful Depression Treatment?

Do We Need More Research?

More research still needs to be conducted despite the positive results. This will definitively ascertain if these programs are truly effective for people with depression because previous studies haven’t had the same positive results. There’s very little previous evidence that smartphone apps actually work for a person’s depression treatment or general mental health.

It’s also very crucial to emphasize that smartphone apps shouldn’t take the place of regular therapy or medication when it comes to depression treatment.

Medical help is still the best way to get depression treatment or to manage any mental illness according to scientific evidence. But the recent study’s results suggest that smartphone apps geared for better mental health could definitely act as supplements to professional depression treatment.

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What are the Experts Saying?

The deputy director of Australia’s National Institute of Complementary Medicine who is a co-author of the study stated that the results exhibit that smartphone apps can aid people in monitoring, understanding, and managing their own mental health.

He also mentioned that using these apps as part of an integrative medicine approach for depression treatment has been revealed to be especially useful for enhancing mood and addressing symptoms in the participants.

As an addition, the team pointed out that using smartphone apps seem to be an easier way for people to get relief from depression symptoms without having to face social stigmas. Such availability is much better than having no depression treatment at all.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 300 million people experience depression all over the world. However, most people are still resistant to getting depression treatment because of the negative connotation it receives or poor access to not only depression treatment but to healthcare in general.

From that perspective, smartphone apps could become the key to manage depression more effectively for a larger number of people. And it will aid in traditional medical depression treatment.

Do you have depression or anxiety and need answers? Talk to a doctor online today for free using the below:

Submitted by Dr. Richard Honaker:

Disclaimer: This article provides general information and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or medical condition. If you require specific advice, please consult one of our medical professionals through the app. However, in case of an emergency, please call 911.

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