Experts o.k. smartphone apps for depression - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Experts o.k. smartphone apps for depression

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With your phone these days, you can find out what song is playing on the radio, play a game of Angry Birds or even count calories.

But here's one you may not know about, there are several apps that claim they can help you deal with serious emotional problems.

But we wanted to know, are they safe?

Answer a few questions, like "Have you been sleeping more than usual lately, or has your appetite changed?" And you're on your way to learning whether you may be depressed, anxious or bipolar.

"They could be lifesavers actually," says psychiatrist Dr. Suhayl Nasr.

Nasr says the types of questions apps ask are the same he's used for 20 years.

"These tests have been standardized extensively and they're available for free online so I think there is a good benefit if people were to take advantage of them," says Nasr.

But would YOU trust the app?

"Like say if Mayo Clinic made the app then sure, of course. But if was you know, Joe's health, then no," says Shaina Poland of South Bend.

Marie Houghton says she'd use the app, "I think it would be safe, convenient. Maybe something I could do in the waiting room beforehand, or at home."

Dr. Nasr says the apps are great, because people may not have money to see a therapist regularly, or maybe a doctor isn't available.

He says, the apps can help professionals screen patients and help track their progress.
But Nasr warns, people really need to answer carefully.

"Take them seriously, and consider, 'what are the alternative answers a week ago, or two weeks ago, so that you can get a better measure for  the seriousness of the problem," says Nasr.

Doctor Nasr says and app called "PHQ9 screener", which is for depression.

He says there's another one for bipolar disorder called, "The Mood Disorder Questionnaire."

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