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

Frank, Ellena; Pong, Janiceb; Asher, Yashvib; Soares, Claudio, N.b,c

Current Opinion in Psychiatry: January 2018 - Volume 31 - Issue 1 - p 3–6
doi: 10.1097/YCO.0000000000000382
MOOD AND ANXIETY DISORDERS: Edited by Sidney H. Kennedy and Hans-Ulrich Wittchen

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.

aUniversity of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pennsylvania, USA

bCanadian Biomarker Integration Network in Depression (CAN-BIND) at St. Michael's Hospital

cDepartment of Psychiatry, Queen's University School of Medicine, Ontario, Canada

Correspondence to Claudio N. Soares, Professor and Head, Department of Psychiatry, Queen's University School of Medicine, c/o Providence Care Hospital, Suite D2.050, 752 King St W, Kingston, ON K7L 4X3, Canada. E-mail:

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