Northwestern University has a suite of mental health apps that are looking promising. They just published a study showing people who used their apps regularly over an eight week period saw their depression and anxiety symptoms decrease by half.
I checked out some of the apps (there are 13 available in the Intellicare suite), and I have to say I’m impressed. They’re based on solid techniques I teach in therapy, and many will find the format easy to use and appealing.
For example, one Intellicare app is called Thought Challenger. When you open the app, it asks you to input a negative thought you’re dealing with. Then it leads you to some questions you can ask yourself about the thought: What is the evidence for the thought? What experiences support and contradict it? Next, it presents some common distortions that lead to negative thoughts. For example, are you thinking in extremes? Are you jumping to conclusions that are overly negative? Are you taking responsibility for things you can’t control? Once you select which distortion you’re experiencing, the app provides some questions to further challenge your negative thought and then an opportunity to choose a more helpful thought to replace the negative thought. It presents words from the new thought in a colorful graphic you can come back to when you need a reminder.
Another app in the suite is called Worry Knot. It prompts you to describe a situation where your emotions are neutral, such as walking to the mailbox. Then it asks you to list a worry you have, such as paying bills. Moving into the exercise, it first invites you to imagine yourself experiencing the neutral situation, bringing your emotions to a neutral place. The next screen reintroduces the worrying thought and has you practice feeling neutral while you think about the worrying event. You repeat the practice a couple times and rate how your anxiety has changed.
These are great exercises! I teach similar techniques to my clients. If you need a little reminder or help to practice healthy ways of thinking, I recommend checking out these apps.
Read more about Intellicare here.
Read about other mental health apps here.