HappyPlace App Attempts To Help With Your Depression

Fitness & Health / Tech
happy app featured

I want to be saved, I want to be taken away from this world and put some where happy. I am fed up with life. All things we see on social media “drama” on an almost daily basis. Many point to social media being the thing to blame, being a faceless, massless organisation that won’t argue back. However research points to it being the easiest way to cry for help.

Should we sit back and accept that there is nothing we can do? Should we point fingers and blame? One app called HappyPlace is seeking to help lift the many people suffering from even mild depression in a completely new way.

Currently in development at Bristol University in the UK, it works by fighting back against biased ways of thinking, and linking depression with the processing of ambiguous facial expressions and mood altered outlooks to the world around you. Such an approach has shown some great success when used to reduce and prevent aggression in young offenders.

happy app screenshotJudge My Face

The app shows the user several faces whose expressions range along a scale form Happy to Sad. The user rates these where they interpret them as happy or sad, once this is complete the users receives more positive grading and feedback. With initial testing showing this not only lifts the mood, it shift the person’s boundary to be more positive.

The overall outcome is to increase the person to a more positive attitude, and change the way expressions are interpreted. Consider the example given by the researchers – you are walking down the street and see a friend. Upon trying to great them, you are greeted with a blank facial expression. In a bad mood you could interpret this in negative ways, when that is to the intention – further increasing your bad mood.

Negative Spiral

Researchers call this “negative framing,” all you come across is interpreted with a negative spin, further decreasing the mood in a vicious circle. So HappyPlace aims to change that interpretation to be more positive towards more ambiguous faces and situations. As the saying goes “Smile and the world smiles back.”

With all sorts of fitness and health apps appearing to monitor our bodies, it’s important the mind is not neglected. Companies have started to take this on board, amongst them Shawn Achor gave a brilliant Ted Talk on Happiness. Smartphone apps are relatively cheap and easy to implement to a wider range of the population. A few minutes a day using an app could prevent lengthy treatment should the situation become worse.

Not quite ready to plug all your life into a computer and would rather speak to someone about any issues you have? Or more than willing to try anything other than see a doctor? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on your social network of choice.

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