A research team at Northwestern University has developed a free cell phone app, IntelliCare, designed to treat depression. Studies by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) show a dramatic reduction in symptoms of IntelliCare app users as compared to those who take part in other methods or receive no treatment at all.

 

Published in the American Medical Association’s JAMA Psychiatry journal, the research served to evaluate the ability of IntelliCare to address depression and anxiety through a mobile intervention platform. The UAMS team mobilized an eight-week two-arm randomized clinical trial including 146 Arkansans of varying age, ethnic and financial backgrounds. Of these patients, 122 were diagnosed with depression and 131 with anxiety. More than 50 percent of both patients diagnosed with depression and anxiety reached full recovery after the trial.

 

“None of the people involved were already receiving therapy for depression,” Carolyn Greene, Ph.D., leader of the UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute’s Center for Health Services Research, said in a statement. “For the eight weeks they relied on the apps, some helped them recognize negative thoughts while others offered relaxation exercises. They only interaction they had was with the coaches who were texting them to help them meet specific goals.”

 

The positive response to IntelliCare comes at a time crucial for barrier-free mental health assistance, as the coronavirus has immobilized many in-person therapy patients. Greene vocalized her hope that the app will prove beneficial during health crises like the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

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