Treating Depression and Anxiety With a Cell Phone App?
Depression and anxiety are serious mental disorders that are more common than a lot of us may think. Approximately 19 million people in America battle with some form of depression and in 2005, the National Comorbidity Survey reported that well over 50% of people dealing with clinically-diagnosed depression also had some level of an anxiety disorder as well. Symptoms of both may include the following: insomnia, night sweats, headaches, irritability, loss of appetite, severe mood swings, constipation, a lack of concentration and in extreme cases of depression, thoughts of suicide. Due to the extreme sensitivity of these matters, if these are things that you are currently dealing with, it is not recommended that you attempt to treat these symptoms on your own. You should go to see a doctor so that you can receive the appropriate treatment, which could range from a prescription for an anti-depressant to a recommendation to enter into therapy. Due to the intricacies of depression and anxiety, while everyone may not necessarily need to enroll into a health informatics program to address some of the concerns surrounding these issues, there are questions posed about if there can be real effective treatment provide via something like a cell phone application, however, the smartphone app known as Mobilyze is attempting to try. In fairness, while it's not attempting to replace the need for medical attention in any way, what the Northwestern School of Medicine is attempting to do is research to see if this application can accurately tell you if you are at risk for depression as it pulls information about your whereabouts and the level of social interaction that you're engaging in with others. The benefit in having a tool like this? Well, being that people with depression or social anxiety disorders tend to live a more isolated existence, the phone application can alert you as to when you are showing telling signs of being headed in that direction. Another perk that the application provides is that by you providing certain amounts of personal information about your lifestyle, there are therapeutic exercises that can be suggested like different ways of breathing to reduce current stress levels. At a later date, this stored information can also be printed for personal use or to be further reviewed with a doctor or therapist. This is not the only phone app that is being developed to address these kinds of concerns. Harvard University is working on one that specifically caters to those with social anxiety. With two implemented faces, one neutral and one with more of an antagonistic facial expression, the user of the application will be provided with a letter on the screen that is used solely for the purpose of distracting them away from the more hostile face. The logic in this approach is that in real life, studies support that individuals with social anxiety disorders tend to naturally gravitate towards people with negative expressions on their faces. This would be a way to distract them from the appearances that cause them distress. There are also applications being further tweaked for teens that are involved in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and those diagnosed with severe depression or schizophrenia. CBT MobilWork is an application specifically designed to support people who deal with anxiety, phobias and even eating disorders. What this application basically does is provide users with daily assignments with the hopes of providing them with some of the motivation needed to want to put forth the effort needed to heal from their disorders. One thing that a lot of people with depression will say is that it causes them to feel hopeless. While there is certainly no replacement for the assistance that a medical doctor or licensed therapist can provide, these advances in technology are hoping to provide people with some effective day-to-day options as they work through depression or anxiety; things that, by a simple touch of the phone, will make relief not seem quite so out of reach.
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