Could a new app tell us if we’re struggling with depression?

Realizing that you might have mental illness is probably one of the scariest things that can happen while growing up. Sometimes, it’s hard to know if the feelings you’re experiencing are passing moments of sadness related to outside circumstances, or deep-rooted concerns that require special attention. No matter what, if you’re sensing feelings of depression—for whatever reason—it’s so important that you talk with a specialist in your school or outside of school, who can help you to feel better and more in control of your emotional state. But for some, it’s harder to recognize that internal turmoil without a little initial guidance.

Enter Crowd ++, a new app being developed to help teens identify if they’re struggling with depressive feelings and need to seek help. First created as a project between Rutgers’ Graduate School of Applied Professional Psychology and their Wireless Information Network Laboratory, Crowd ++ is supposed to detect what you’re feeling by recording your social and physical activity, tracking your texts and calls, and having you fill out daily entries about your stress and state-of-mind.

“With teenagers tethered to their smartphones and digital devices, we wanted to reach adolescents where they could be reached,” Brian Chu, an associate professor at GSAPP and director of the school’s Youth Anxiety and Depression Clinic, told Rutgers Today.

“Everyone has fleeting moods up and down,” he said. “We are looking to find the kids who are getting stuck. The app allows us to get a continuous view of how a teen is experiencing everyday life, to find out where the triggers are — and where their hot spots might be.”

Currently the app—which hasn’t been released to the public yet—functions as a way to detect depression, but the creators are hoping that soon it can also provide coping methods and behavioral techniques, as well as advice about stress-management.

While this app is a super important step, it’s no substitute for professional help. If you’re feeling depressed or wondering if you might be, you can always reach out to places like TEEN LINE by calling (310) 855-HOPE or (800) TLC-TEEN from 6pm to 10pm PST, or texting “TEEN” to 839863 between 5:30pm-9:30pm PST. You can also call the Suicide Hotline (800-784-2433) or the Crisis Call Center (800-273-8255 or text ANSWER to 839863) any time of day.

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