Friday, October 29, 2010

Depressed? There's an app for that

For those of us in the northern hemisphere, winter is just around the corner. Aside from freezing our butts off and inevitably having to dig our cars out from under mounds of snow, that also means a serious lack of sunshine and a resultant dip in our general friendliness. In more serious cases, we're into the beginning of Seasonal Affective Disorder season.

Fortunately, there's the U.S. military. The National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2), which researches and deploys new technologies for psychological health on behalf of the Department of Defense, has a new app for Android phones designed to help.

The T2 Mood Tracker is "a mobile application that allows users to self-monitor, track and reference their emotional experience over a period of days, weeks and months using a visual analogue rating scale." The app can monitor six areas of brain and psychological issues: brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, stress, depression and general well being. It's intended for troops who have returned from combat and may be suffering brain injury or PTSD, but it's also available to the general public for free.

The app allows users to keep a sort of diary of their moods by logging general feelings through a graphical interface. The record can then be shared with a doctor or therapist to provide an accurate graph of the user's mood over a prescribed period of time. As the website states:

Doctors and therapists frequently begin an appointment by asking, 'So how have things been going since I saw you last?' With this app it’s easy to answer that question by sharing graphs of emotional experience since the previous appointment. No need to try to remember how you were feeling last week. It’s all there, and the data were collected in real time. In addition, some research suggests that self-monitoring in and of itself has a therapeutic value by keeping people focused on the issue they are monitoring.

It's a nifty app, but I think there's a more effective one currently out there. It's called Kayak, and it helps you book trips to warm, sunny places like the Dominican Republic!


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