A Stanford researcher is pioneering a dramatic shift in how we treat depression — and you can try her new tool right now

Business Insider | 10/10/2017 | Erin Brodwin
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Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and it can kill. But scientists know surprisingly little about it. Even with awareness programs like World Mental Health Day, which happens every year on October 10, our knowledge of the condition is extremely limited.

We do know, however, that talking seems to help — especially under the guidance of a licensed mental health professional. But therapy is expensive, inconvenient, and often hard to approach. A recent estimate suggests that of the roughly one in five Americans who have a mental illness, close to two-thirds have gone at least a year without treatment.

Silicon - Approaches - Problem - Apps - Psychiatry

Several Silicon Valley-style approaches to the problem have emerged: There are apps that replace the traditional psychiatry office with texting, and chat rooms where you can discuss your problems anonymously online.

The newest of these tech-based treatments is Woebot, an artificially intelligent chatbot designed using cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, one of the most heavily researched clinical approaches to treating depression.

Woebot - Startup - Idea - Alison - Darcy

Before you dismiss Woebot as a half-baked startup idea, know that it was designed by Alison Darcy, a clinical psychologist at Stanford, who tested a version of the technology on a small sample of real people with depression and anxiety long before launching it.

"The data blew us away," Darcy told Business Insider. "We were like, this is it."

Results - Trial - Tuesday - Journal - Medical

The results of the trial were published Tuesday in the Journal of Medical Internet Research Mental Health.

For the test, Darcy recruited 70 students who said they experienced symptoms of depression and anxiety and split them into two groups. One group spent two weeks chatting with Woebot; the other was directed to a National Institute of Mental Health e-book about depression. Over two weeks, people in the Woebot group reported not only chatting with the bot almost every day, but seeing a significant reduction in their depressive...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Business Insider
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