The World Health Organization expects depression to be the costliest global health issue in the world by 2020. The costs come not only in the form of expensive therapies and drugs but also in the form of lost time/productivity at work and drug addiction. Can we avert the coming costs of treating depression by focusing on prevention rather than cure?
Thankfully, I’ve never been diagnosed with clinical depression or an anxiety disorder, but like most people, my emotional life has been a roller coaster of good times and bad. There’s been many times when I’ve felt helpless and lost, like I had little control over my own life.
This led me to discover mindfulness meditation, where I learned that our mental states aren’t just the result of how our life is going, but very often the cause are how we are doing in life as well. More importantly, we can learn to gain control of our mental states to a degree, not through hokey feel good aphorisms or thinking happy thoughts, but by slowing down and identifying our individual thoughts and distractions.
Mindfulness led me to discover Positive Psychology, a subfield of psychology that has been uncovering scientific evidence of Buddhist concepts like the importance of being present as a way to gain control over our emotions rather than letting them control us.
For the past several decades, Positive Psychology has conducted rigorous research on ways to improve mental affect (or wellbeing in more common parlance) for all people and not just those with clinical level depression or anxiety. Greater mental affect isn’t only about happiness but also leads to stronger relationships and more productivity, and therefore a more successful and fulfilling life.
I’ve created an app for iOS that brings the tools of positive psychology to everyone, whether you see a therapist and need some help between appointments or whether you just want to improve your mindset.
The tools include:
Gratitude Journal (improving your mindset about the past). Users are prompted to write 3 good things that happened at the end of every day. This technique has been proven to be one of the most effective things you can do to improve mental affect. Experiments have shown that using a gratitude journal for as little as a week can having positive effects on mood lasting up to 6 months!
Flow Survey (improving mindfulness of the present). Much mental anguish and problems of low energy and productivity come from being unengaged and unfulfilled at work. The Flow survey educates user’s on the concept of flow, or being in the zone, and help’s them identify activities that put them in a flow state.
Adversity Disputer (improving your mindset about the future). Former APA President and leading Positive Psychologist, Dr. Martin Seligman has demonstrated that our reactions to adversity and anxiety about the future is something we learn throughout our lives. Some people grow in the face of adversity while other give up. The good news is that you can learn to change how you respond to adversity!
The adversity disputer journal’s the user’s daily adversities and anxieties about the future and teaches them to question their negative self talk and to reframe their catastrophizing thoughts. It is the same technique used by Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
Welli is currently available for iPhone and iPad through the App Store. Welli on iTunes: http://apple.co/1RbW6Ra