Treating depression? There’s an app for that

WASHINGTON – Smart phone users can conjure up recipes, find directions, identify a song and deposit a check, all with the push of a button. And soon, there will be an app that helps fight depression.

Popular Science reports that Harvard psychiatrist Diego Pizzagalli is teaming up with Baltimore- based Canterbury Road Partners to turn his research into a digital reality.

MoodTune, the name of Pizzagalli’s app, will feature a series of six or seven games. When played regularly, Pizzagalli says the app can help to stimulate certain parts of the brain that counteract some symptoms of depression. The end result could be similar to the effectiveness of taking medication for depression.

The games will be as simple as matching images of faces with adjectives, such as “happy” and “sad.” Pizzagalli tells Popular Science that playing the games serves as a tune-up to the brain. He refers to the activity as “cognitive training.”

Pizzagalli, who has worked in depression research since 1999, hopes to release the app by the end of the spring. However, before MoodTune is released, it will be sent through a medical trial to test for effectiveness.

WTOP’S Rosemary Frisino-Toohey and Rachel Nania contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.