Self Help

Self-help app helps reduce depression, anxiety symptoms – Healio

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A popular smartphone app based on cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness showed efficacy in individuals with symptoms of anxiety and depression, data presented at the Anxiety and Depression Association of America annual meeting showed.

There has been increased demand for technology-based behavioral health tools to ease the burden of mental illness, according to the meeting abstract.

In a randomized, wait-list controlled trial, Christine Moberg, PhD, of Pacifica Labs in San Francisco, and colleagues examined the effectiveness of Pacifica, a commercially-available, guided self-help app designed to address stress, anxiety and depression in 500 adults with mild to moderate anxiety and depression.

Participants used Pacifica for 1 month. The researchers conducted an all-virtual study, using a web-based portal to recruit, screen and randomize participants. On average, participants reported using the app 19 times over the 30-day intervention period.



Moberg and colleagues found that self-reported depression, anxiety and stress declined at 1 month among adults who used the app and self-reported self-efficacy rose, according to results from the intent-to-treat analysis.

Although the researchers found no relationship between overall app engagement and symptom improvement, follow-up analysis indicated that participants who finished more thought record exercises saw a greater degree of sustained symptom improvements through the 2-month follow-up than those who completed fewer exercises, according to the abstract. Furthermore, participants who also took psychiatric medications during the trial had less benefit from the app, as measured by reduction of anxiety and stress symptoms.

This app may be especially helpful to individuals who use thought records and do not take psychiatric medication, according to the abstract.


Moberg C. Guided self-help works: A randomized wait-list controlled trial of a mobile app integrating CBT and mindfulness for stress, anxiety, and depression. Presented at: The Anxiety and Depression Association of America 39th Annual Conference; Mar. 28-31, 2019; Chicago.

Disclosures: Healio Psychiatry was unable to confirm any relevant financial disclosures.

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