Start- Is your medication working for depression?

By: Aliya Lucatch


Working with ACD Research group, I recently got the chance to review several mental health related apps available on the Apple Store. One of my favorite apps was Start, a medication management app developed by Iodine Inc based in San Francisco. It was created for people with depression who are just starting to use prescription antidepressants.


After downloading the app, you are prompted to list the medication you have been prescribed from a drop down list. The next step is to fill out common problems that you have been experiencing from several categories including exercise, diet, sleep, mood, family, relationships, and work. You are also asked to fill out a short, 9-question survey on depression from a commonly used and validated measure, the PCL-2-R. The app states that you are asked to fill out this survey bi-weekly in order to track your progress and severity of depression. Other functions include setting alarms, adding contacts from your care team to share results with, pharmacist tips such as interactions and side effects of each drug, and depression tips.


One of my favorite things about this app is the attractive interface and effortless usability. The instructions for each of the tasks are very clear and is accessible to a broad range of users.  The app includes reminders and notifications to encourage users to keep track of their progress. As antidepressant medication progresses, there are different bodily and mental effects that may occur, and the goal of the app is to keep track of these symptoms and ensure that the user is safely adjusting to the medication. Additionally, the integration with the user’s real-life health care team is an excellent addition, as it provides valuable information for healthcare professionals to easily manage their patient’s safety and well-being.


Start is an user-friendly, efficient eHealth app for its users to achieve their goals. My only suggestion is to include anxiety symptoms and assessments within the app, as many of these disorders are also treated with antidepressant medications. Apps like Start that are able to provide health information, track progress using validated measures, and are integrated into the existing health system present as good examples of what the future of healthcare should look like. There are thousands of eHealth apps on the App store, but many of them are not based on scientific evidence, and this fact delays the shift from changing the current landscape of healthcare. We need effective, well thought out systems that are widely approved of by healthcare professionals in order to integrate these technologies into the field. As much as these technologies are there to help patients, they will also help to increase the efficiency within the healthcare system and allow more people to access the services they need.