Choi Chung, RPh, BScPharm
It’s something the majority of us have felt at some point in our lives. We have a clear understanding of the benefits that medication therapy and counseling offers, but many people simply can’t afford to see a psychologist. What’s more is that many still avoid seeking counseling due to the stigma attached to mental health.
So what can people do?
In today’s world, we’re beginning to see an increasing number of people rely more on the use of smartphones. With this, we are seeing thousands of mental health-related apps readily accessible for downloading from app stores. These apps claim to offer effective interventions such as mindfulness, behavioral training (i.e. CBT) and mood-monitoring. Such apps receive thousands of downloads from people seeking a quick and affordable solution in dealing with their depression.
But just how effective are these apps?
Recent studies have shown that smartphone apps that deliver mental health interventions can help reduce depressive symptoms. The greatest benefit was seen in those with self-reported mild-to-moderate depression. In such people, app-mediated CBT, mindfulness and mood monitoring “significantly reduced depressive symptoms” in a recent study by Firth et al.
So where do these apps fit into the treatment of depression?
These apps may serve some benefit for those suffering from mild-to-moderate forms of depression as an addition to conventional medical therapy or as a starting point for those with self-reported symptoms of depression.
All in all, more research is needed before we can truly find a definitive therapeutic role for apps in treating those suffering from depression.
- The efficacy of smartphone-based mental health interventions for depressive symptoms: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials – http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/wps.20472/epdf