A smartphone application, developed by researchers at USP, could be the new emotional support tool for those suffering depression and anxiety disorders.
The device was created after an experiment carried out for 12 weeks with patients with chronic illnesses and depressive symptoms. The new technology helped reduce 50% of symptoms in participants.
Named Conemo – acronym for Emotional Control – the application was developed in partnership between USP, King's College (London), Universidad Cayetano Heredia (Peru) and Northwestern University (United States).
All research and creation of the tool was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
How it works
Conemo uses a technique cognitive-behavioral therapy. It suggests daily activities that are pleasurable, or meaningful to users.
During the survey, the app was installed on cell phones delivered to participants in two cities.
The first is São Paulo, the study included the participation of 20 Family Health Units in the east of the city, with 880 patients in total.
The other city chosen was Lima, Peru, 420 volunteers participated in the survey.
Reduction of Depression Symptoms
For 10 minutes, for three days a week only, volunteers had to choose one of the activities proposed by the app, such as listening to music, taking a walk, calling someone special, and other options.
After three months of follow-up, the results reported in patients who used the app were promising.
In São Paulo, 159 patients reduced 50% of their depression symptoms, compared to the other patients, who received conventional follow-up with medication and clinical care only.
A similar result was seen in Lima, using the application brought 19% more success compared to conventional treatment.
Paulo Rossi Menezes, who is a professor of Preventive Medicine at USP and responsible for the study, said that the application allows “to expand the access of people with chronic diseases and symptoms of depression to some type of care that can improve their quality of life, without need to go directly to the specialist, psychologist or psychiatrist”.