How would you react if your phone could predict mood swings? Or if your partner received a notification from a digital app every time you take antidepressants? These are not hypothetical scenarios: for example, TypingDNA, like a weather forecast, provides a forecast of mental well-being, and in 2017 in the USA the use of a digital pill, which can be tracked for yourself and others, was approved.
Before the pandemic of SARS-Cov-2, digital aid advocates fiercely promoted the efficiency of technology to provide mental medical care. However, since 2020, the whole world has adjusted to the quarantine regime — and against the background of the digitization of our lives, the shock has confidently turned into a push. In an environment of social isolation, job insecurity, grief over the loss of nearest and dearest, limited access to medical care in clinics, people have turned to the market of digital alternatives. The very beginning of the pandemic was characterized by a real boom in downloads of mental health and wellness apps. For two years, digital mental health technologies have played an important role in increasing investment and the arrival of “professional players” in this field. Over time, such invasive technologies can become a real alternative to visiting certified therapists or psychiatrists.
What is a Mood Tracker and Why is It Important?
Mood tracker is a tool used to record a person’s mood at regular intervals. Its purpose is to help find patterns of how moods change over time and through different situations and circumstances. In some cases, a mood tracker app or tool can be helpful for people with mental disorders such as depression and anxiety to help identify and regulate mood.
Mood trackers can range from simple (handwritten diary) to complex (an online application that collects a variety of information or a digital wristband health tracker). Here are some of the reasons why you should keep a mood tracker:
it helps determine what makes you react in a certain way and which internal and external triggers cause mood swings;
it can be extremely helpful for people with mental disorders such as depression and anxiety;
it helps you understand what factors are affecting your mood, such as sleep, diet, or daily activities;
it can help you develop a mechanism to deal with a bad mood;
based on your mood tracking results, it can help you determine if your therapy is effective or not.
Research has also shown that mood tracking apps can be helpful in reducing aggressive or harmful behavior.
What About Digital Mental Health Care?
Digital version of the field of mental health includes a wide range of technologies providing mental care with a variety of capabilities according to the patient’s needs. These technologies include apps, programs, chatbots, and platforms that specialize in meditation, awareness, and mood logging. Some programs offer guided meditations and bedtime stories, while others provide access to occupational therapists. Chatbots can automate therapy with artificial intelligence and natural language processing.
However, some apps “outgrow” the boundaries of their most common forms and claim as their target an ability to predict and diagnose mental disorders. To obtain objective measurements in the predominantly subjective field of mental health, recent research has focused on the development of predictable technologies such as digital phenotyping — tracking human location, speech patterns and keyboard “behavior” with sensors.
A few figures: in 2021, $4.4 billion was spent on mental health supplements worldwide. According to Pitchbook, $1.4 billion was invested in the industry in 2022. There were 406 mental health startups in 2021 and 126 in the first quarter of 2022. The most popular applications are Cerebral, Lyra, Spring Health, Calm and Sondermind. Each of these services, in addition to the Calm meditation program, connects users with clinicians. Health and fitness supplements have an estimated surge in downloads, revenue, and usage from late December to January. By allowing users to track their personal data and even gamify the experience, these programs, apps, and tools encourage better habits.
What is Well-Tech Today and What is Characteristic of It?
One of the achievements at the present stage is the use of bioflows. Just like you broadcast music or movies, bio-streaming allows you to transmit physical sensations. Advanced technologies digitally mimic the effects of common compounds such as caffeine and melatonin, and stimulate their impact on your biometric data. It promises to reduce our addiction, democratize anxiety and give us more direct control over all important life processes: from the quality of sleep to the fullness of activity in the workplace.
Although commercially available solutions are still in the early stages of this shift, they are in great demand among a fairly large consumer base of wellness wearables. Over time, these solutions will become more sophisticated and elegant. But this is already pushing the scales of good technology to the stage of personalization according to the user, and the dream has become a reality.
Forecasting the Future
Now that platforms and technologies can control and affect our well-being, the next step will be to integrate these solutions. Then the devices could memorize a number of patterns and even anticipate our needs and whims. Let’s say, a digital application that shows sleep habits may notice that you rush and turn around more often than usual, and then tell your app to send soothing signals to your body so you can sleep harder. Technology can turn to self-regulation and usage of accumulated experience based on your needs and preferences in real time.
As technology becomes more streamlined, we will see that it goes beyond the multimedia sphere. You will bring it more naturally into your daily routine with the help of smart wellness technologies built into mattresses, car seats, headphones, clothes, and more. For some, this may seem a bit of sci-fi, but a lot has been done for this and is waiting for rendering. Companies need to put power in the hands of consumers: allow users to set their own goals and specify what information to share, and, of course, start, stop or plan work whenever they want.
We are moving into the future, where changes in our mood, anxiety, and stress will be detected through facial recognition, and our conversations at home and at work will be analyzed using NLP to predict and promote mental well-being. However, if robust data protection systems are in place and technology is scientifically tested for effectiveness, digital health can offer many people continuous, quantitative, and affordable mental health care.
Conclusion - can digital health tracker become better than psychologist?
It is very important to take a step back and change your lifestyle to reduce stress. A health and wellness tracker or other supplements can be extremely useful for keeping a daily routine, reducing stress, and monitoring your health activities. The use of technology has become a bonus in dealing with mental health issues. This is still a new field, but it is such a gift for healthcare professionals, stakeholders, and patients.
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