Can apps help with managing depression?
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Noel Bell BA (Hons), MA, PG Dip Psych, UKCP
30th September, 20150 Comments
Do you struggle with depression and have you considered using health apps to manage your feelings and mood? There are now thousands of health apps for every known condition, so you may wonder if they can all be trusted and whether they can be useful as a means of managing your depression.
The NHS reviews all apps submitted to what they call their Health Apps Library to try to make sure that the apps are appropriate for residents in the UK. There is a quality assurance checking system that seeks to prove that they comply with the law surrounding data protection and conform to existing trusted sources of clinical information. There are currently 26 apps the NHS has recommended for mental health (some of which are free, see the NHS Choices website).
What might be the benefits of using an app to manage your depression?
Provided you use one from trusted sources, apps may empower your knowledge base by teaching you techniques which you can use in your everyday life for lasting benefit. Just like with self-help books, you may gain greater insight into your patterns of thinking and behaviour which could boost awareness of how your mental scripts impact on your relationships, as well as increasing your levels of personal motivation throughout each day. Taking greater responsibility for the management of your mood could help with your feelings of sadness or lack of enjoyment with pursuits which had previously given you pleasure. Additionally, if used in a healthcare setting, clinicians may be able to correlate data from another app to track and monitor wider health issues and could potentially modify your medication to better treat your depression.
What might be the disadvantages of using an app to manage your depression?
Just like with self-help books, apps may only provide a short term boost to your mood and state of mind if used in place of therapy. Quite apart from the risks associated with the privacy, security and confidentiality of your very personal data, you might consider what happens when your levels of motivation and resolve weaken. This is when the constancy of therapy and the power of the relationship with your therapist can prove more robust and sustaining. Making the effort to see your therapist for weekly sessions, even when you might not always want to go, brings additional benefits than just the talking time in your session. The commitment of regular therapy offers you the potential to reflect more meaningfully on your life as you benefit from dialogue and the interaction with your therapist.
About the author
Noel Bell is a counsellor/psychotherapist based in London who has spent the past 20 years exploring and studying personal growth, recovery from addictions and inner transformation. Noel draws upon the most effective tools and techniques from the psychodynamic, cognitive behavioural (CBT), humanist, existential and transpersonal schools.
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