By DCoE Public Affairs
For a quick look at depression in the United States, check out these statistics:
- Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in our country, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
- Our country ranks third as the most depressed country in the world, according to the World Health Organization.
- Approximately one in five adult Americans experiences some form of mental illness each year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
With reports like these, we should keep tools to fight depression handy. The National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2), with the Department of Veterans Affairs, designs tools like apps for your smartphone. And these days, there are few things handier than a mobile app.
However, before you explore the T2 suite of apps, here’s an overview of depression:
What is Depression?
Depression isn’t a simple feeling (sad, down, blue, etc.); it is a serious condition that requires patience, understanding and treatment. Clinical depression is a medical condition and like other medical conditions, it can interfere with a person’s daily life and can make normal functioning a challenge. Depression can vary in type and symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms
- Intense sadness, feelings of hopelessness
- Memory lapse, trouble with attention
- Social isolation
- Loss of interest in hobbies
- Thoughts of death, suicide
- Exhaustion, fatigue
- Sleep problems (too much or too little)
- Impatient, fidgety
- Loss of appetite, changes in weight
- Body aches (headaches, cramps or digestive problems) without a clear physical connection and no relief even with treatment
According to the “VA/DoD Clinical Practice Guideline for the Management of Major Depressive Disorder”:
“Depression is considered a biological illness but can result from a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Trauma, loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, or any stressful situation may trigger depression, but depression can also occur without an obvious trigger.”
It can present at any age and may co-occur with other medical conditions such as a traumatic brain injury, diabetes or cancer.
Health care providers can treat depression. The earlier a person starts treatment, the better the outcome. Treatment involves psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of the two. Without treatment, depression can recur frequently and may become chronic.
“If you experience several depression symptoms that last longer than two weeks and interfere with normal daily activities, it’s time to see a health care provider,” said Cmdr. Angela Williams, chief of evidence-based practice at the Deployment Health Clinical Center. “Most people who engage in treatment for depression get better.”
This list of mobile apps from T2 can help users understand and manage depression symptoms:
- ACT Coach uses mindfulness and acceptance strategies to help users cope with emotions and symptoms of psychological health conditions.
- LifeArmor offers information, support tools (such as depression assessments), videos and a symptom tracker. It is the mobile compliment to AfterDeployment.
- Mindfulness Coach teaches focused attention using guided mindfulness meditation practices. It includes session logs to track progress and educational materials.
- Moving Forward features problem-solving tools designed to teach life skills.
- Positive Activity Jackpot helps users overcome depression and build resilience. It uses augmented reality technology to locate positive activities nearby.
- T2 Mood Tracker helps users monitor and track their emotional health. Results are displayed in an easy-to-understand graph.
- Virtual Hope Box strengthens coping, relaxation and distraction skills. Users can add personal photos, inspirational quotes, etc., to support positive thinking.
If you, or someone close to you, are experiencing depression, talk to your health care provider. Visit the Stuttgart Health Clinic for contacts and resources, http://rhce.amedd.army.mil/stuttgart.