How to ease depression with technology
Mobile apps can help you manage mental health and achieve greater well-being
About one in six adults will suffer from some form of depression in their lifetime. In all, the disease affects about 16 million adults each year. In addition, suicide rates are on the rise.
But depression is more than just feeling sad or hopeless. It affects you physically and keeps you away from practicing good lifestyle habits such as exercise and healthy eating. When you’re depressed or anxious, you sometimes want to spend the day in bed. Making plans with friends or family can be challenging.
Today, sufferers are getting help with easy-to-use mobile apps that relieve symptoms and improve emotional well-being. Those that experience anxiety or loneliness also benefit from these apps. Unlike being tied to a doctor’s schedule, such apps have the added bonus of being available 24/7. Users also find their privacy a plus.
How meditation apps can help
Some people deal with stress by planting themselves in front of the TV or munching on potato chips.
Others meditate to help with depression, anxiety, and pain. Meditating means sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing, and keeping your mind fixed on the present.
Headspace and Calm are two apps that are helping people meditate. They let users select relaxing sounds, soothing images, and peaceful music to help them calm down and de-stress.
Use music to feel happier
If you are depressed or anxious, music outside of meditation can also be calming. It boosts the immune system as well.
Music can also help people with depression or anxiety. It’s also thought to improve your memory and the ability to stay healthy in older people.
The good news is that you don’t need a room full of instruments to make your own music. A handful of apps can help you do so.
- Figure and Korg Gadget - These apps let you create your own songs by choosing from a variety of beats and melodies. Figure users can share their tunes with other app users.
- Magic Piano - Here, you tap balls of light as they pop up on your screen to play popular songs that sound like they're coming from a piano.
Overall, people who feel more connected are less likely to be anxious or depressed.
Social media apps like Facebook and Instagram help people connect through photos or messages, which can help those who feel lonely.
Other social networking sites, like those for people contemplating suicide, are helpful to depressed or anxious people who feel like no one understands what they’re going through. These sites create bonds between people who are dealing with similar issues.
But failing to be with others can negatively affect your health. One study found that little social connection was worse for you than obesity, smoking, or high blood pressure.
On the flip side, spending time with others can:
- Increase your life span
- Boost your immune system
- Help you get over being sick faster
Of course, getting help to depressed or anxious people when they need it is important. That’s why Facebook looks for posts that may talk about suicide or self-harm. The site will also scan comments for sentences like "Are you ok?" and "Can I help?" Both can be an indicator of suicidal thoughts.
It’s important to remember that although apps and social media sites are making it easier for people to improve their mental health, they can’t take the place of a doctor. Though technology can help people who are depressed or anxious feel better, more studies are needed to determine their ultimate effectiveness.