An estimated one in 10 Americans suffer from depression, and other mood disorders are on the rise.
Henry Acosta, 42, had been struggling with depression since he was a teenager.
"At the age of 16 I was having thoughts of hurting myself and actually had a suicide attempt that ended up in a psychiatric hospitalization," Acosta said. "I've been through many headaches in my personal life because of the untreated depression; its manifested itself in many different ways.”
But a new technology is helping Acosta take control of his condition when symptoms arise. Dr. Gerald Hurowitz, a psychiatrist based in New York City, designed the WhatsMyM3 app, which measures the risk of mood and anxiety disorders – from the privacy of your own phone.
Hurowitz said the screening tool is the first of its kind.
"Never before has there been a single screen. One that is computerized, which can measure not just depression, but also anxiety disorders, PTSD, and bipolar disorder,” he said. “So it's really revolutionary in that sense.”
By answering a series of questions about feelings and lifestyle, the patient is given a score.
"And it’s somewhat akin to trying to monitor cholesterol, which most of us now know should be below 200,” Hurowitz said. “The M3 has a score, a total score of 33, above which you have a greater risk of having a mood or anxiety disorder.”
After recently dealing with some highly stressful personal issues, like a cancer scare, Acosta took the M3 test, and said it was a real eye-opener.
"I scored pretty high for depression, pretty high for anxiety, and also the suicide risk was there because I had been having those thoughts, (and) seeing it on paper, really made me wake up," he said.
After generating a score, the screening tool provides resources for help, and in extreme cases, a direct call button to a suicide hotline. Patients can then print out the results and bring them directly to their doctor.
Acosta said he feels one of the best features of the WhatsMyM3 app is being able to use it privately.