These days, the relationship between a woman and her cell phone is among the closest there is. From our main source for news, to our trusted traffic guides, we rely on our smartphones for just about everything. Yes, even when it comes to our mental health.
But instead of simply self-diagnosing ourselves with a good old-fashioned Google search, there are an increasing number of apps and websites that not only claim they can help us understand our emotions better, but also that they can help us control symptoms of depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) —all while we remain safely on the other side of a digital screen.
Aaron Harvey is the creator of one these online resources. His website, Intrusive Thoughts, which officially launched earlier this week, was created to help people who were looking for information on OCD and anxiety. "Every four out of five people experience intrusive thoughts. . . But for one in 50 this fear becomes much harder to dismiss," Harvey said in an interview with Refinery29.
Besides offering general information on health issues like OCD, depression, and anxiety, users visiting Intrusive Thoughts can also find advice on healthy eating, mindfulness, and yoga.
"My goal is to capture me when I was 13 and I started to experience this," Harvey said, "so that the next 13-year-old doesn’t have to spend the next 20 years figuring out what the hell is going on and thinking that they’re a bad person."
While Intrusive Thoughts doesn’t offer the capability to chat with a professional, many other online services do. In fact, with online therapy apps like BetterHelp and Talkspace, users get matched to a licensed therapist who they can message as often as they like. Other apps such as Lantern, for instance, gives users daily exercises to combat stress and anxiety, while also allowing them the convenience to chat with a therapist whenever they’d like. These Web-based therapy services can range anywhere from about $60 to $100 month, which is far less expensive than seeing a therapist in person.
Still, the question remains: Is Web-based therapy as good as the real thing?
One major advantage to Web-based therapy, the research pointed out, is that it gives many more people access to care. People who live in areas without a lot of mental health-care providers can more easily seek the treatment they need, while others who are afraid of exploring therapy because of the social stigma attached, may be more likely to give it a chance online.
However, there are also concerns that online therapy doesn’t fully support patients and doesn’t give them a deep enough understanding of their conditions, especially when patients are not logging their feelings in real-time.
The verdict: Web-based therapy might work for some people, but the space is new and definitely requires more research.
Would you try online therapy?
- 0% I already have and I love it.
- 0% I did, but it wasn’t for me.
- 0% I’ve been intrigued by it.
- 0% No, I don’t think I need therapy.