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Do Depression Apps Really Treat Mental Illness?

by | Feb 4, 2018 | Health Apps, Healthcare, Technology |

Do Depression Apps Really Treat Mental Illness?

by | Feb 4, 2018 | Health Apps, Healthcare, Technology |

So, we all know that digital can help us do things quicker, organise our time more effectively. With the advent of machine learning algorithms in everyday situations, we are even seeing institutions such as banks and healthcare disrupted. But can a machine help us treat mood disorders like depression and anxiety?


Deprexis is a German app for people suffering with depression. The National Institute for Care and Excellence (NICE), who offer doctors guidelines for treatment of patients, are recommending the app for use in the NHS.

What Does This Depression App Do?

Basically, it offers a series of guided CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) exercises. CBT has proven very effective in helping people deal with negative states of mind. It encourages them to find coping strategies. It is available on smartphones, tablets and desktops.
NICE are recommending a 2 year trial of guided use with a therapist.

What Are The Broader Implications of This Trial?

The NICE are planning to review 14 digital treatments for anxiety and depression over the next 3 years. Anxiety and depression have met almost epidemic proportions in many western countries, so the investigation of cost effective and easily distributable solutions such as Deprexis are inevitable. Any solution which offer a non-medication based alternative to traditional treatment plans for such illnesses can only be a good thing.

Woebot – an Alternative Depression App?

Is a free therapy chatbot from Stanford University. It too is designed to help people deal with anxiety and depression. The idea is that apps like Woebot can act as a stopgap between a therapist and o treatment.

Inevitably, there are limitations to these types of technology. They are not really suitable for complex issues, or where patients are in situations of extreme crisis. Within their limits, though, these apps clearly have some useful part to play in the management of mild mental health conditions.

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