In Balanced Achievement’s iThrive series, we aim to present you with a variety of useful iOS and Android apps that are designed to accelerate personal growth and improve emotional well-being. In this article, we look at 3 of the best depression apps as reviewed by members of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
For the roughly 17 million American adults who suffer from depression on an annual basis, it’s no longer necessary to wait in debilitating agony for that next therapy appointment. Thanks to the proliferation and continuous advancement of depression apps, a wide variety of therapeutic strategies, activities and techniques, ranging from Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) to mindful breathing exercises, are now at our fingertips. Here, we’ve done our best to spotlight three of the best, as featured on the Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s (ADAA) website.
Before we take a closer look at these three state-transforming depression apps, however, it’s important to point out that although they may prove helpful in combating melancholy and despair, they shouldn’t be thought of as stand-alone options for treatment. If you or a loved one is experiencing any sort of depressive symptoms, whether light or severe, consulting with a medical professional is highly recommended.
MoodKit – Mood Improvement Tools:
Based upon the foundational principles of CBT, MoodKit was designed by two clinical psychologists, who also created another state-boosting app called MoodNotes, to help users identify and transforming negative thoughts, track and rate moods, record observations in a journal, and participate in emotionally uplifting activities. By relying upon a combination of the scientifically-based strategies and 200+ activities, the MoodKit app, which comes with a one-time cost of $4.99, can assuredly help individuals suffering with depression move themselves in the direction of greater health and happiness. Let’s take a closer look at some of the features:
MoodKit’s Thought Checker helps individuals identify and modify their harmful thought patterns by prompting them to chronicle difficult situations, describe how they feel in those moments and determine the emotional intensity corresponding with those events. To aid the practice, which derives from the popular CBT exercise known as the ABC(D) thought record, MoodKit offers users a list of selectable pre-existing feelings and lets them pinpoint their level of emotional severity with a sliding scale. Subsequently, with continual use of the feature over time, individuals learn how to change their limiting thought patterns in a way that transforms depressive feelings.
Mood Tracker & Journal:
In addition to the Thought Checker, the app also houses a Mood Tracking feature where users can rate and track their daily mood over time. By consistently entering how they feel on a scale of one to ten, individuals are presented with a number of graphs that offer insights into their mood average and range. Better yet still, because the app’s Journal component, which comes with a variety of useful templates for observing both challenges and triumphs, is fully compatible with the Mood Tracker, users can start pinpointing the exact causes of their mood swings.
Finally, the MoodKit’s Activities function provides users with a variety of actionable suggestions for boosting their mood. Not only are the highlighted activities divided into categories such as Productivity, Social, Enjoyment, Physical and Healthy Habits, they all come with accompanying information and tips so users can transform unwholesome feelings into a greater sense of well-being.
MoodTools – Depression Aid:
Like many of the most popular mental health apps on the market today, MoodTools was designed, in collaboration with respected mental health professionals, to provide individuals with a plethora of research-supported strategies and techniques for improving mental health and emotional well-being. Within the framework of the MoodTools app, which comes completely free of charge unless you desire to pay for the abilities to export data, sync via the cloud and protect your account with a password, users will find a thought diary and activities feature similar to those in MoodKit. Of course, the reason these therapeutic techniques of challenging maladaptive thoughts and behavioral activation are in both apps is because they’ve proven to be effective treatment strategies. Additionally, the MoodTools apps offers a number of unique features which we’ll review here:
Within the framework of MoodTools, users will find a reputable self-assessment test, called the PHQ-9, which they can use to screen, diagnosis and measure the severity of their own depression. Although this simple questionnaire takes just minutes to complete and determine results, it can serve as a powerful instrument for tracking and monitoring how one’s depression changes over time.
Suicide Safety Plan:
Another way that MoodTools separates itself from other depression apps is with a potentially life-saving suicide prevention planning feature. More specifically, the app encourages users to develop a suicide safety plan, which includes personalized information about warning signs, coping strategies and reasons to live, that they could call upon in the event of a suicidal crisis. Additionally, MoodTools adds another important planning element by compelling individuals to compile a list of emergency resources with the numbers of family members, medical professionals and suicide hotlines.
In addition to the self-assessment test and suicide safety plan, MoodTools also offers a useful video library which houses guided meditations, soothing sound recordings and TED Talks. Whether individuals feel they need to focus the mind, relax or get inspired, it’s certain that the app has a video resource that will do the trick.
Sanvello (formerly Pacifica):
With roughly 3 million users, the Sanvello app, which previously operated under the name Pacifica, is one of the most popular depression apps to be recommended by ADAA members. Similar to both MoodKit and MoodTools, this empowering app was built upon the science of CBT, with the help of experienced psychologists, and offers a wide variety of tools individuals can use to improve their mood, overcome depression and live a happier life. In contrast to the two apps we’ve examined thus far, however, Sanvello, which comes at the cost of $8.99/month or $53.99/year, places greater importance on meditation and practices deriving from Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Additionally, here’s a few other features that differentiate Sanvello from other depression apps:
With daily mood and healthy habit tracking, Sanvello is able to keep users on the path towards greater emotional health and life-satisfaction. Better yet still, when data collected through simple daily prompt questions, that can be answered in just seconds, is added to additional information gathered via weekly assessment check-ins, the app can pinpoint exactly how one’s experiences, activities and emotions directly effect one another. Subsequently, individuals can then use this statically-based evidence to guide their decisions with the hopes of permanently changing their lives for the better.
Another unique Sanvello feature that keeps individuals moving in the right direction is the Guided Journeys step-by-step audio lessons. By taking part in these life-affirming programs, which were designed in collaboration with highly regarded psychologists, users can learn the intricacies of CBT and gain greater control over their emotional states. A few examples of the Journeys offered on the app are Feeling Better, a seven day course highlighting practical strategies for dealing with anxiety and depression, and Building Confidence, a ten day course which shows users how to change their interpretations of thoughts, beliefs and experiences.
While all the tools incorporated in Sanvello are useful, many individuals find the peer support community to be most beneficial. With hundreds of posts from people battling stress, anxiety and depression, individuals can undoubtedly find inspiration, encouragement and practical advice coming directly from those who’ve overcame comparatively similar emotional hardships.