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R U OK? Texting to Treat Depression

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By Ronald Simms Jr., Digital Communications Specialist

Text messaging has been blamed for all manner of calamity, from car crashes to sex scandals. But what if its powers could be used for good—say, to treat depression?

Adrian Aguilera, PhD, thinks it can. Aguilera works in cognitive behavioral therapy, which aims to alter dysfunctional emotions and behaviors by teaching patients to identify and challenge negative thoughts that affect mood. He first began looking at text-message solutions in 2010, after a conversation with a mentor providing interventions online got him thinking. Most of his patients at San Francisco General Hospital are from low-income populations, but data showed that the rates of basic cell phone ownership were high regardless of socioeconomic status. That made it an attractive vehicle for delivering interventions.

Check out the infographic below to learn more about Aguilera's work and to see how text messaging could be a useful tool in the fight against depression.