Online Analyzer Marks Breakthrough in Managing Depression


WALTHAM, Mass., Dec. 20, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- People dealing with depression now have a new and potentially powerful ally: technology.

The Depression Wellness Analyzer is a breakthrough online system that allows people to define individual wellness goals, track their moods, monitor and adhere to treatment plans and medications, spot red flags and gather data to discuss with their doctor.

Unlike any other mood-monitoring software, the system -- which is is based on the PHQ-9, a well established benchmark of depression attributes -- asks targeted questions to help patients and caregivers create a personal definition of wellness and map out short- and long-term goals. From there, users can track their moods, medications, and other daily functioning such as sleep and activity levels, and produce a simple, one-page chart that clearly illustrates patterns and highlights potential issues.

Users download the program to their private computer, and can save results to either email to their doctor or family member, or print for their own records. The Analyzer also features a journal to record life events and reactions to those events, as studies have shown that writing in a journal improves long-term management of depression.

"It got me to really stop and think about what is going on when I am and am not well, how to tell when things start going wrong, and to talk to my family about that, so that I can ask for help before things get bad," said Cynthia, a user from Georgia.

Families for Depression Awareness, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping families recognize and cope with depressive disorders, created the Analyzer based on its unique three-step monitoring Depression Wellness Guide (©2006). Pre- and post-surveys of a pilot group showed that users of the guide had:

  • higher levels of continued adherence to medication and treatment plan (64%),
  • Increased knowledge about depression (70%),
  • improved communication with their clinician (88%),
  • improved alerts of when to contact clinician (61%),
  • improved understanding of medication side effects and adverse reactions (58%).

The Depression Wellness Analyzer is HIPPA compliant, as Families for Depression Awareness does not maintain any patient information or have access to Analyzer results. In addition, the Analyzer has been extensively tested with users.

"The Depression Wellness Analyzer helps patients and their families become active partners in managing their depression treatment," said Julie Totten, President of Families for Depression Awareness. "Based on our testing, we know that it improves communication with care providers, increases wellness and helps prevent relapses."

About Families for Depression Awareness

Families for Depression Awareness is a national nonprofit organization that helps families and friends recognize and cope with depressive disorders to get people well and prevent suicides. The organization provides education, outreach, and advocacy to support families. Families for Depression Awareness is made up of families who have lost a family member to suicide or have watched a loved one suffer with depression, with little knowledge about how to help.

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