Users Weigh in on Mood Bloom, an App for Relieving Anxiety and Depression Symptoms
By Lauren Cohen
Hedonia's Community Manager
A worldwide mental health crisis has millions of people with anxiety and depression searching for what will help them feel better while seeking affordable ways to manage their symptoms.
Different forms of talk therapy, self-care, and prescription medications used to form the generally accepted standard of care. Today, however, there’s a shortage of mental health professionals, and many people cannot afford a therapist if they can find one.
Filling the gap in part is a burgeoning market in other therapies, including life coaching, supplements, weighted blankets, yoga and meditation, wearables, and mindfulness and mental health apps. As a recent Wall Street Journal article noted, the science behind many is yet inconclusive.
At Hedonia, we champion science and believe in its potential for creating effective, low-cost therapies that can help people suffering from depression and anxiety and work in combination with other treatments.
We are finalizing the results of a clinical trial, conducted with Massachusetts General Hospital, of our mobile app, Mood Bloom. The app uses clinically-proven exercises designed to disrupt unhealthy thinking patterns and rebuild neural networks. Researchers, including our co-founder Prof. Moshe Bar, have found this approach to relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Prof. Bar, a neuroscientist, named the therapy behind Mood Bloom facilitating thought progression, or FTP™.
“Hedonia’s founders didn’t launch the company with the intention of building games,” said Samuel Keret, Hedonia chief executive officer.
“As we were brainstorming how to apply FTP in a format that people could easily access, we understood the biggest challenge with any type of therapy is getting people to start it, and stick to it. We realized games could be an inexpensive and entertaining way to keep people engaged with FTP-based therapy. Our goal is to help as many people as possible. By making the therapy feel like play, users will come back often enough to experience real relief from symptoms of depression and anxiety.”
Keret, who was part of the founding team at Waze, the successful app built on the input of users driving roads and highways throughout the world, believes that all great products are built in collaboration with the user community. “Users who have been playing our game, some for more than a year, have truly been our ‘design partners’.”
“We have encouraged users to give us direct feedback on the game – what they do and don’t like, what’s missing, etc. – and that along with insights from their patterns of play have guided us to make the game more engaging and retain their participation in the therapy it provides,” Keret said.
We asked some users for their perspectives on the app’s utility – as a therapy they can stick to – and its efficacy in managing their symptoms.
In Their Words
“This game has done wonders for me and I'm absolutely going to continue using it,” said one clinical trial participant.
90% of clinical trial participants accepted an invitation to continue playing after the trial concluded.
79% of Mood Bloom community members surveyed believe the app is easy to use.
“I feel that it is a fun way to enhance your mood and help with feelings of depression,” a user from Mood Bloom’s community said.
Another commented, “I did some reading, and the approach seems sound. It's worth a try.”
Comments from committed users also indicated that Mood Bloom is effective in modifying their mood for the better:
“More positive thinking.”
“I do feel lighter. A little happier.”
(There’s been a) “general uplifting in my overall mood.”
(I’m) “more flexible.”
(I’ve noticed more of an) “openness to non-black-and-white thinking.”
Two Users’ Stories
We were able to interview several longtime users who described their journeys to improve their mental health.
Sabrina, who is in her 20s, said she downloaded Mood Bloom during a period of depression and anxiety following her grandmother’s death.
“And I would say that Mood Bloom really pushed me forward in not only doing the game but also seeking out professional help,” she said.
Today Sabrina says she uses Mood Bloom in combination with prescription medication to treat her symptoms. She finds a good time to play Mood Bloom is during her long commute, calming her anxiety before work.
Allegro, who is in their 30s, said, “I’ve got a lot of things going on in my head, and anxiety and depression are among them. But I’m autistic. And it’s just, it’s hard for me to get very far with conventional therapy. So I’ve tried all sorts of other things.”
One of those is Mood Bloom, which Allegro finds helps them understand better how people who are more “neurotypical” look at the world.
Allegro also described using Mood Bloom to help them calm their brain down when it is overactive.
Hedonia will soon release its clinical trial results (sign up here to be notified), continue to grow its user community, and add features that enhance the experience and therapeutic benefits.
“We are excited about the release of the results of our clinical trial with Massachusetts General Hospital and about the next phase, where we continue to collaborate with our user community to enhance and ‘grow’ Mood Bloom, Keret said.
“People with anxiety and depression deserve more options for symptoms relief. This is what motivates our team at Hedonia.”