Digital Therapy Can Help With Depression

Going on the Internet or using mobile programs for mental health care wasn’t necessarily perfect, but nowadays, digital treatment is more promising.

Approximately 1 in 4 individuals around the world suffer from a mental health disorder, but many lack access to treatment. Almost two-thirds that have a known disease never get help from a health professional because of stigma, affordability or other factors. Digital therapy could provide cheap, widespread support for mental health, but it has not worked in addition to traditional therapies.

Numerous studies in collaboration with IT consultant companies in Melbourne discovered early digital treatment tools were impractical or ineffective. Some clinicians feared patients would select the incorrect therapy. Others contended mental health technologies offered users just a placebo effect: If a patient enhanced during digital treatment, it was because they expected to, not because it was treating the problem.

But recent study shows digital therapy can result in measurable improvements in psychological health. When it’s coupled with clinical support from a therapist, it may be just as valuable as conventional treatments. NASA is even looking into the tools as a means to treat astronauts during future deep space missions. Other trade workplaces are looking into mental health services for contractors in commercial electrical services in Melbourne. But electronic treatment is still nowhere near perfect. Everyone’s mental health is unique, and specialists suggest the tech has to be equally narrowly tailored to be genuinely effective.

While not to be considered a replacement for professional or medication treatment, a new study shows smartphone programs may be an effective treatment option for depression. With depression currently the most common mental disorder in the world, mental health services are struggling to meet the demand for treatment – and researchers believe programs can help.

In an effort to tackle this growing challenge, researchers from Australia’s National Institute of Complementary Medicine, Harvard Medical School, The University of Manchester, and the Black Dog Institute in Australia examined the efficacy of smartphone-based remedies for depression. The researchers examined 18 randomised controlled trials that analyzed a total of 22 distinct smartphone-delivered mental health interventions.

The research involved more than 3,400 male and female participants between the ages of 18 and 59 with an array of mental health symptoms and ailments – like major depression, mild to moderate depression, bipolar illness, anxiety and insomnia.

The first-of-its-kind research, published today in Earth Psychiatry found that overall smartphone programs significantly reduced people’s gastrointestinal symptoms, implying these new electronic therapies can be helpful for managing the problem. Lead author of the paper, NICM postdoctoral research fellow Joseph Firth, says that this was a significant finding which introduced a new chance for providing affordable and accessible care for patients who may not otherwise have access to therapy.

Mr Firth said that the majority of people in developed nations own smartphones, including younger people that are increasingly affected by depression. Combined with the rapid technological advances in this area and the increase in IT managed service providers in Melbourne and Sydney, he claims that these devices may make effective treatments for depression highly accessible, which should reduce the social and financial burden for individuals worldwide.

Co-author, NICM deputy director, Professor Jerome Sarris emphasized the significance of these findings for opening up non-stigmatising and self-managing paths of care. According to Professor Sarris, the information shows that smartphones can help people track, understand and manage their own mental health, especially for those who fear stigmatization (this can be anyone but an industry focus lately has been men in the trades including refrigeration mechanics and ac repair men). Using programs as part of an ‘integrative medicine’ approach for depression has been shown to be especially helpful for improving mood and handling symptoms in these patients.

In regards to the question of “Which program is best?” and “For who?”, the results suggested these interventions so far might be most applicable to people with mild to moderate depression, as the advantages in major depression haven’t been widely studied as of yet. When compared with cognitive behavioural therapy or disposition monitoring programs, the researchers found no difference in programs.

Regardless of the promising results mentioned, as of currently, there is no evidence to show that these programs alone can outperform standard psychological treatments, or lessen the need for antidepressant drugs. Nonetheless this is a promising step forward in using smartphones in mental health. Patients and physicians are confronted with a huge array of mental health programs nowadays, and knowing which ones are really helpful is vital.

Studies provide much needed information on the effectiveness of apps for depression, and provides important clues into the kinds of apps which can help patients manage their condition.

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