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Depression Apps Can Help Treat Symptoms, Experts Say

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Experts have discovered that app-based treatments for depression are effective in helping treat symptoms of the condition. The question becomes if these accessible apps can help millions of people around the world who are suffering from it.

The World Health Organization declared this year that the leading cause of illness and disability globally is depression.  The latest Global Burden of Disease study showed that major depression is one of the 10 leading causes of death in all countries, with the exception of four, Tech Time reports.

Depression is a health condition that is often misunderstood, overlooked and tied to deep social stigmas.

Health organizations and corporations are continuously educating the public and finding ways to diagnose and treat people suffering from the disorder. Form yoga to sleep deprivation, experts have been looking at ways to make treatment more accessible to people.

A new report states that app-based treatments are helping. Researchers from Australia’s National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM), the University of Manchester, Harvard Medical School, and the Black Dog Institute examined 18 randomized trials which took a closer look at 22 different smartphone-based mental health treatments with 3,414 participants between the ages of 18-59. The patients suffered from a range of conditions such as insomnia, bipolar disorder, anxiety, major to mild depression.

The findings revealed that app-based treatments brought on positive effects on depressive symptoms, and could become an important tool in managing mental health. Specifically, the researchers found that the apps worked best for people with mild to moderate depression. In addition, apps that focus on mental health showed more positive effects compared to apps that focus on cognitive training.

While these findings don’t suggest that people should abandon traditional therapies and medication, they do suggest the presence of another significant tool that can help people around the world with their mental health. The researchers can also start identifying which of the apps actually work, and which ones don’t.

Joseph Firth, lead author on the study, says, “Combined with the rapid technological advances in this area, these devices may ultimately be capable of providing instantly accessible and highly effective treatments for depression, reducing the societal and economic burden of this condition worldwide.”

The study was published in World Pschiatry.

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