Smartphone Apps Can Reduce Depression, Study Finds

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CBS Local — A new treatment for depression may have been found and the prescription could be to simply look at your smartphone more.

According to a new study, published in the journal World Psychiatry, the use of mental health apps by people dealing with depression has resulted in significant improvement in their conditions. Researchers from the U.S., Great Britain, and Australia studied over 3,400 adults between 18 and 59 years old who were all suffering from mental health issues. The patients took part in a number of trials involving 22 smartphone apps focused on improving mental health.

“The data shows us that smartphones can help people monitor, understand and manage their own mental health. Using apps as part of an ‘integrative medicine’ approach for depression has been demonstrated to be particularly useful for improving mood and tackling symptoms in these patients,” Professor Jerome Sarris said. The study’s co-author added that the work highlighted the importance of opening up self-managing avenues of care for people with depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety.

According to the study, patients dealing with mild depression benefited most from using the apps. The trial reportedly did not have a great impact on those suffering from more severe forms of depression. The findings also revealed brain training apps like “Fit Brains” were less effective in treating patients than ones solely focused on mental health.

“Given the multitude of apps available — many of them unregulated — it’s critical that we now unlock which specific app attributes reap the greatest benefits, to help ensure that all apps available to people with depression are effective,” cautions co-author Jennifer Nicholas.

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