Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Cambridge Cognition, whose CANTAB mobile app we recently covered, have teamed up to announce a pilot study of a specially designed app for Apple Watch to track and assess cognitive functions in people with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).

Depression affects 350 million people worldwide and is one of the leading causes of disability. Cognitive problems can arise with MDD that often go under-recognized by doctors and those that suffer from the condition. According to a press release, “The Cognition Kit app is designed as a step forward in assessing those symptoms, advancing patient assessment and monitoring outside of the lab and into everyday life to help maximize patient engagement and potential treatment.”

The results of the study will be released sometime in the first half of 2017 and will involve 20 people (age 18-65) who were prescribed an antidepressant. It will evaluate the feasibility of mobile apps and compare them to other more traditional patient-reported assessments.

Jenny Barnett, Ph.D. of Cognition Kit said in a statement:

“By combining wearable technology with world-leading neuroscience, we’ve created an app that collects real-time passive and active high-frequency mental health data … Being able to access data regularly from daily life can help clinical decision making. Healthcare professionals can obtain patient data and increase patient engagement in their treatment.”

Recent forays in the medical app and depression fields have yielded varying results. A few years ago, we reported on the MoodHacker app study that showed that MoodHacker improved depression symptoms among employed adults compared to controls, with its strongest effects in those with access to an employee assistance program. While the University College of London and Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies studied the effect of virtual reality (VR). That study was extremely limited and showed that less than 30% of participants benefited from digital technology.