Smartphone App May Help in Treating Depression

ATLANTA – Daily mood ratings recorded in a smartphone may be a useful way to monitor symptoms and help in treatment for people with depression, according to a new study presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association.

The study, led by researcher Anh Truong, M.D., with Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, evaluated whether daily mood ratings entered by patients on their phones can help in monitoring and classifying symptoms in people with depression.

Over an eight-week period, participants in the study self-reported their daily moods using the Smartphone and Online Usage Based Evaluation for Depression (SOLVD) mobile app. The SOLVD app was developed by study co-authors at Rice University. Results from the app were compared with results from standard instruments, such as the Patient Health Questionaire-9 (PHQ-9) which were measured biweekly in person by clinicians.

Truong found that the smartphone ratings correlated with the clinician-administered instruments and the ratings were more closely aligned for people with moderate-to-severe depression than individuals with mild depression. While the results are preliminary because of small sample size, smartphone applications such as SOLVD hold promise as a useful way to monitor depressive symptoms in a clinically depressed population, Truong concluded.

The American Psychiatric Association is a national medical specialty society whose 36,500 physician members specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses, including substance use disorders.

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