Smart phone technologies and ecological momentary data: is this the way forward on depression management and research?

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Depression is a complex and burdensome condition; it often leads to personal, societal and economic costs. Despite advances in treatments, its management over time remains a challenge; many treated for depression do not achieve full recovery or remain well for long. Novel ways to monitor patients are warranted, as well as better understanding of contributors to relapse or sustained wellness. Mobile health technologies (m-Health) are emerging as useful tools for real-time assessments of moods, behaviours and activities in a more convenient and less burdensome manner. Yet, there are numerous questions around privacy, reliability and accuracy of data collected via mobile apps. This review provides a critical overview of advances in m-Health and evaluate the future potential of smartphone technology in the assessment and treatment of depression.

Recent findings

There is an abundance of apps in the market that claim to exert beneficial effects on the management of depression; to date, only a small fraction has been validated in clinical trials or has had the support of academic centers.

Summary

Although promising, the use of mobile health applications in depression warrants further investigation and incorporation into mainstream research to facilitate greater adoption and validation of its clinical utility.

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