Despite recent advances in society’s understanding and support for mental health issues, many people find difficulty seeking effective treatment for depression. For many women, asking for help in managing their depression can be uncomfortable, even with their caregivers. So often times, the daily struggle is a private battle with limited knowledge of potential helping hands that are available to them.
In addition, depression can exacerbate other medical conditions and complicate the treatment program. Recent research across a wide array of chronic illnesses (from heart disease to diabetes) found that clinically depressed patients had 76% greater odds of becoming non-adherent with their medication.
Particularly in such instances, mobile apps can be private and effective tools in a woman’s efforts to cope with depression. Here are some examples of the types of apps every woman battling depression should consider having in her toolbox.
Exercise Apps – Research from the Mayo Clinic shows that doing 30 minutes or more of exercise a day for three to five days a week may significantly improve depression-related symptoms such as anxiety. With new “personal trainer” apps, women can create customized workouts that fit their lifestyle and get them moving without having to make an appointment at a physical gym.
Medication Adherence Apps – Eleven percent of Americans aged 12 years and over are prescribed an antidepressant medication. However, it was found that 28% of users discontinued use after the first month, which can result in a relapse.
Medication adherence apps remind users to take their medications, and avoid problems of missing refills or skipping dosages. This can be particularly relevant for anti-depressants, as discontinuation can manifest itself in renewed anxiety but also other physical complaints such as dizziness and flu-like symptoms.
Diet Apps – A new joint study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition links a high glycemic diet to depression. Diet apps help users create a personal diet plan that fits their personal needs and create eating behaviors that are more physically and mentally healthy.
Meditation Apps – A review by Madhav Goyal, MD of The Johns Hopkins University for JAMA Internal Medicine (2014) looked at different types of mindfulness meditation among 47 studies, finding that it had the same moderate effect on treating depression as medication, and had moderate effects on anxiety and pain as well. Users wanting to try meditation in the comfort of their home or office can use these apps to be guided through a peaceful meditation and support mindfulness.
Sleep Apps – There is a clear link between sleep and depression. 60-80% of users with depression report experiencing sleep disturbances of some kind. Persistent sleep problems can significantly increase the risk of a relapse of depression, and may also delay a patient’s response to treatment. There are a variety of apps available to help users fight off insomnia. Sleep apps provide users with tips on how to get a good night’s sleep, and can even monitor when and how often a person is awake.
Along with the right medication and therapy, these apps can be a helpful part of a woman’s overall treatment program. Particularly with their demanding work and family schedules, women deserve additional support and the good news is that digital and mobile technology is becoming increasingly widespread and convenient.
NOTE: If you believe you may have depression please seek help from a medical professional.
About the Author: Fatima is currently a Senior Program Manager at Medisafe and recently completed her Masters in Public Health and Business from Johns Hopkins University. She is passionate about health technology innovation and the power of mHealth to improve quality of life for patients.