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A New Smartphone App Promises Help for Schizophrenia

April 9, 2016, 9:12 PM UTC
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Though pharmaceutical advances have made it easier to treat the delusions and paranoia that are the most visible symptoms of schizophrenia, patients can also suffer from less obvious problems, such as anxiety and lack of motivation. Those issues can keep them from living fulfilling lives, or even hamper their treatment by keeping them from checking in with a doctor regularly.

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A new smartphone app aims to close the gaps left by chemical treatment by providing users with structure, feedback, and a support network. As described in Pacific Standard, the new app, called PRIME, mixes elements of social networking, on-demand therapy, and task management, all working together to help people with schizophrenia keep moving forward.

According to the app’s designer, psychiatry professor Danielle Shlosser, schizophrenia patients are prone to social isolation, even when their condition is treated. The PRIME app connects users to their peers in something that resembles a social network, including status updates and commenting.

It also provides easy access to mental health professionals, who check in on users and are available to help navigate moments of crisis. Finally, the app lets users input and track “challenge goals,” things they’d like to accomplish, or improve about themselves.

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As a patient profiled by Pacific Standard illustrates, the instant connection provided by mobile technology may be a powerful new tool in fighting a disease that preys on patients’ sense of isolation. The app is currently in a testing and refinement period, and the developers hope to make it more widely available by next year.