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Can Mental Health Apps Work for Depression?

Can Mental Health Apps Work for Depression?

Today’s more than 20,000 mental health apps have a wide range of functionalities and business models. Many of them can be useful for depression.

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Even before the pandemic created a need for more telehealth options, depression was a hot area of research for app developers. Given the high prevalence of depression and its connection to suicidality — especially among today’s teenagers and young adults who grew up with mobile devices, use them often, and experience these conditions with alarming frequency — apps for depression could be not only useful but lifesaving.

“For people who are not depressed, but have been depressed in the past, the apps can be helpful for maintaining positive thinking and behaviors,” said Andrea K. Wittenborn, PhD, director of the Couple and Family Therapy Doctoral Program and a professor in human development and family studies at Michigan State University. “For people who are mildly to severely depressed, apps can be a useful complement to working with a mental health professional.”

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L. Michael Posey
A pharmacist-editor-journalist since 1980, L. Michael Posey is a regular writer and editor for The Gerontological Society of America, Postgraduate Healthcare Education’s PowerPak.com website, and other clients. The author of several books and many news and journal articles, Posey is a founding editor of a landmark textbook in pharmacy, Pharmacotherapy: A Pathophysiologic Approach, a McGraw Hill title now in its 11th edition. He holds a master's degree in health and medical journalism and baccalaureate degrees in pharmacy and microbiology from the University of Georgia. Posey is the father of four sons and a daughter and resides in the Wine Country north of San Francisco. Follow him on Twitter @lmposey.
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9 Tips for Online Mental Health Therapy

Research shows that, for most patients, online therapy offers the same benefits as in-person therapy, yet many people still resist it. A behavioral scientist explains how you can use it to improve mental health.

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Telehealth offers a vast improvement in access and convenience to all sorts of medical services, and online therapy for mental health is one of the most promising case studies for telehealth. With many online therapy options available, you can choose whatever works best for you. Yet many people are hesitant about using online therapy. Even if they do give it a try, they often don’t know how to make the most effective use of this treatment modality.

Why do so many feel uncertain about online therapy? A major reason stems from its novelty. Humans are creatures of habit, prone to falling for what behavioral scientists like myself call the status quo bias, a predisposition to stick to traditional practices and behaviors. Many people reject innovative solutions even when they would be helpful. Thus, while teletherapy was available long before the pandemic, and might have fit the needs of many potential clients, relatively few took advantage of this option.

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Gleb Tsipursky
Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is an internationally recognized thought leader on a mission to protect leaders from dangerous judgment errors known as cognitive biases by developing the most effective decision-making strategies. A best-selling author, he wrote Resilience: Adapt and Plan for the New Abnormal of the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic and Pro Truth: A Practical Plan for Putting Truth Back Into Politics. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training as the CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts, and over 15 years in academia as a behavioral economist and cognitive neuroscientist. He co-founded the Pro-Truth Pledge project.
Some hospitals are pioneers in ditching plastic, turning green

In the U.S., hospitals generate an estimated 6,000 tons of waste per day. A few clinics are leading the way in transitioning to clean energy sources.

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This is part 2 of a three part series on a new generation of doctors leading the charge to make the health care industry more sustainable - for the benefit of their patients and the planet. Read part 1 here.

After graduating from her studies as an engineer, Nora Stroetzel ticked off the top item on her bucket list and traveled the world for a year. She loved remote places like the Indonesian rain forest she reached only by hiking for several days on foot, mountain villages in the Himalayas, and diving at reefs that were only accessible by local fishing boats.

“But no matter how far from civilization I ventured, one thing was already there: plastic,” Stroetzel says. “Plastic that would stay there for centuries, on 12,000 foot peaks and on beaches several hundred miles from the nearest city.” She saw “wild orangutans that could be lured by rustling plastic and hermit crabs that used plastic lids as dwellings instead of shells.”

While traveling she started volunteering for beach cleanups and helped build a recycling station in Indonesia. But the pivotal moment for her came after she returned to her hometown Kiel in Germany. “At the dentist, they gave me a plastic cup to rinse my mouth. I used it for maybe ten seconds before it was tossed out,” Stroetzel says. “That made me really angry.”

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Michaela Haas
Michaela Haas, PhD, is an award-winning reporter and author, most recently of Bouncing Forward: The Art and Science of Cultivating Resilience (Atria). Her work has been published in the New York Times, Mother Jones, the Huffington Post, and numerous other media. Find her at www.MichaelaHaas.com and Twitter @MichaelaHaas!