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Wednesday | 9.20.2017
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iPhone/iPod App Allows Free Screening for Depression, Other Mood and Anxiety Disorders

People who think they might be suffering from depression can now screen themselves with an iPhone and iPod app. The new app checklist is especially significant because fewer than half of Americans who have the disorder seek help for it.  Now such people can take the first step toward solving their problem by spending three minutes on  their own cellphone.

Mymoodmonitor.com, a Web site for mental-health screening, is now providing a free, mobile version of the M-3 Checklist, a scientifically validated screen for mood and anxiety disorders, in the Apple App store.

Adapted from its existing mymoodmonitor.com Web site, this mobile version, called depressioncheck, provides the same validated mental-health questionnaire, developed by a team of mental-health practitioners and experts. The app is a simple, easy-to-use checklist and takes approximately three minutes to complete. The screen is validated for those 18 years and older. Its accuracy is confirmed in the March 2010 Annals of Family Medicine (http://www.annfammed.org/cgi/content/abstract/8/2/160).

Millions of Americans have a diagnosable mood or anxiety disorder every year. but fewer than half of those individuals receive help for their condition. One reason for this shortfall has been the absence of a single, simple and reliable screen that can assess the presence of the mood and anxiety disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Depressioncheck is a symptom checklist with which a user may rate his or her mood in one easy review. It comprises a short series of questions that touch on indicators of mental health.

Robert M. Post, M.D., Director of the Bipolar Collaborative Network, the 2010 recipient of the NAMI Scientific Research Award and one of the creators of the M-3 Checklist, says: “The Depressioncheck app is an extremely powerful and efficient way of distributing the M-3 Checklist screen. By going mobile, we can get this research-based screen in the hands of individuals who can take the screen whenever it is convenient for them. When significant symptoms are uncovered, the user receives important confirmation that his or her suffering is not somehow self-imposed, and that there are options to help improve the situation.”

As demonstrated by a 2009 research study at the University of North Carolina Medical School, the screen has the sensitivity to pick up treatable cases that are often invisible to earlier mental-health screens, including those of many individuals who suffer from milder, but overlapping, conditions, such as mixed depression and anxiety. Furthermore, it can help distinguished regular depression from the bipolar variety, and thereby avoid a common cause of mistreatment with potentially serious consequences. The customized report provides risk and severity ratings that may serve to guide the user to an appropriate treatment, whether therapy or medication.

For those in distress and at risk for suicide, depressioncheck provides a direct, one-button link to Mental Health America's National Suicide Hotline. Interactive applications of this sort, offering users validated medical assessment and feedback in real time, have the potential to greatly improve the dynamics of healthcare delivery, reaching many who might otherwise suffer in silence. The value of this technology to college and military populations, among others, is considerable.

The depressioncheck app is available to iPhone (telephone and data) and iPod Touch (data only) users through the Apple applications. An ongoing dialogue about the M-3 Checklist and various aspects of mood and anxiety disorders is provided at the mymoodmonitor Facebook page found at http://www.facebook.com/pages/My-Mood-Monitor/133566943333436. A Spanish-language edition and a version for the Droid operating system is planned.


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