Your Smartphone: Your Therapist?

How to Prevent Depression

“I sure love my smartphone – can’t think of much it can’t do. Hmmm, if only it could treat my depression. Now, that would be something!”

Ah, ask and you shall receive. According to Northwestern University psychologist David Mohr…

We’re inventing new ways technology can help people with mental health problems. The potential to reduce or even prevent depression is enormous.

Seems Mohr and his pals at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine are coming up with some pretty wild stuff.

They’re actually inventing web-based, mobile, and virtual technologies to not only treat depression, but other mood disorders, as well. And we’re talking unique ways to provide immediate support that could even put an end to traditional weekly therapy sessions (but wait a minute, I’m a therapist!).

Let’s chat smartphone. This thing can actually spot symptoms of depression. And how does it do that? Well, it pulls together sensor data within the phone to interpret your location, activity level, social context, and mood.

Let’s say your phone, which learns your activity patterns, comes to the conclusion you’re isolated (common depressive symptom, right?). To help you pull out of it, it’ll send you a suggestion to hook-up with friends. For the record, this technology is called “Mobilyze!”

According to Mohr…

By prompting people to increase behaviors that are pleasurable or rewarding, we believe that Mobilyze! will improve mood. It creates a positive feedback loop. Someone is encouraged to see friends, then enjoys himself and wants to do it again. Ruminating alone at home has the opposite effect and causes a downward spiral.

Your smartphone: your therapist? Could be.

So what else is on the workbench at Northwestern?

How ’bout a medicine bottle that will track your daily meds dosage – and remind you to partake?

But that’s not all. It’ll include a mobile app that monitors your depressive symptoms, as well as any meds side effects you may be experiencing. And after pulling the information together, it’ll provide custom-tailored management advice. And the lowdown can even be sent to your doc – with treatment recommendations, no less.

Finally, how ’bout a virtual human to coach adolescents in social skills? This one is actually being developed by a research team at the University of Southern California. But the folks at Northwestern are serving as a clearinghouse for these technologies.

Anyway, the virtual programmable human will  role play with teens, teaching them social and assertiveness skills. What a cool way for young people to self-improve in the safety of virtual space!

You know, I think it’s important to keep you posted on research developments of great significance. In my mind, it brings to life hope in so many ways. And it bangs the point home that there really are very smart people out there working to provide relief for the mood and anxiety disorders.

So, hey! Need a therapist? Get a smartphone.

It’s coming…

Thanks to for the scoop.

I’d like you to read more chipur Feelin’ Better articles. So, help yourself.