There is an app for that! The current state of mobile applications (apps) for DSM-5 obsessive-compulsive disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety and mood disorders
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Mental health apps are viewed as a promising modality to extend the reach of mental health care beyond the clinic. They do so by providing a means of assessment, tracking, and treatment through a smartphone. Given that nearly 2/3 of the American population owns a smartphone, mental health apps offer the possibility of overcoming treatment barriers such as geographic location or financial barriers. Unfortunately, the excitement surrounding mental health apps may be premature as the current supporting literature regarding their efficacy is limited. The app marketplace is littered with apps claiming to treat or assess symptoms, but even those created by reputable organizations or those incorporating components of evidence-based treatments have not yet been validated in terms of their efficacy. This review aims to provide a comprehensive review of the current state of the mental health app literature by examining published reports of apps designed for DSM-5 anxiety and mood disorders, OCD, and PTSD. The breadth of apps reviewed includes those oriented around assessment, symptom tracking, and treatment as well as "multipurpose" apps, which incorporate several of these components. This review will also present some of the most popular mental health apps which may have clinical utility and could be prescribed to clients. While we discuss many potential benefits of mental health apps, we focus on a number of issues that the current state of the app literature presents. Overall there is a significant disconnect between app developers, the scientific community and health care, leaving the utility of existing apps questionable.
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