iPod Apps to Treat Depression: "HappyAppy," "Pocket Therapist," etc.

Merely Me Health Guide
  • I am just getting into the groove of the technological age.  I barely have a cell phone.  It is one of those pay as you go ones to just make telephone calls, no texting or camera included.  Call me a dinosaur but I have never texted in my life.   What am I missing?  I bought my first IPod last year and I am just learning how to set up play lists for myself. Remember that I come from an age of record players, card catalogs, and Pong.  The IPod is an amazing piece of technology isn't it?  All that music stored on such a little device.  It is like discovering fire.  Then I got an IPod Touch as a Christmas present.  It is like an IPhone but without the phone part.  And I have to tell you that I am in love with this gadget.  I feel like how Gollum, from the Lord of the Rings, felt about his ring.  You just might find me caressing the case and uttering, "My precious."

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    In case you are unfamiliar with how this device works in addition to storing photos, music, and videos, you can also acquire "apps."  These are programs which can include games, entertainment, maps, weather and tons of other stuff.  You do a search and you can find anything from Pac Man to Pride and Prejudice.  So of course I wondered how such a device might be of benefit to our mental health.  Were there specific programs to increase our mental well being?


    I first did a search for therapy.  I instantly found "The Pocket Therapist" where a bearded dude who resembles Freud offers free advice such as:  "Everything you do is triggered either by desire or fear" or "In order to view yourself from a true perspective you must have a dog who worships you and a cat who ignores you."  Hey, he is better than some of the therapists I have had recently!  And if you touch this  therapist's tummy he giggles like Elmo.  


    I also found under the heading of therapy "sound therapy" where you can play stress reducing sounds like rain, waterfalls, ocean waves, or the sounds of a forest.  I found these very relaxing and could easily see how they might be used to induce sleep. 


    Doing a search of "Self Help" brought up "classics" you could read on the IPod such as "Think and Grow Rich" by Napolean Hill and "The Art of Public Speaking" by Dale Carnegie.  Not really the kind of self help books I was thinking about but these are definitely from a genre which is considered popular.


    Feeling unsatisfied with my quest thus far, I searched for the big enchilada, "HAPPINESS."  Would I find it on my IPod?  I closed my eyes before peeking at the screen.


    On the list was a version of "HappyAppy" which was some game involving filling up the screen with smiley faces.  Nah.  Not what I was hoping for.  Then I found "Happiness" which offered a variety of sounds of laughter.  The premise is that when we hear laughter we become happy ourselves.  I found it produced more annoyance in me than joy but maybe I am just an old curmudgeon.   


    Is there anything for the likes of me?


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    My search also led me to "Bill Cosby Quick Quotes."  Okay ‘ol Bill is a funny guy.  I'm game.  Some of his quotes include, "Old is always fifteen years from now" and "Let us now set forth one of the fundamental truths about marriage:  the wife is in charge."  How true that is Bill.  But yeah, while these quotes are witty and all, I still feel the need to search for further happiness.


    Then I found "Live Happy:  A positive psychology IPhone app" in part developed by a Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, the author of a book called "The How of Happiness."  Now this sounded promising!  This app provides ways to engage in happiness activities such as: 

    • Replay your happiest days by looking at photos which conjure pleasant memories
    • Do random acts of kindness
    • Contact someone you haven't talked to in awhile and re-connect
    • Create goals for yourself
    • Imagine your best possible self as in write down where you see yourself in the years to come in the most positive light as if your dreams have come true.
    • Keep a gratitude journal

    These all sound like great ideas but nothing really new here.  I am sure we have heard these suggestions before from various self help books and even Oprah.  Yet this app did have potential.  I am going to try these activities and will share my outcomes with you here on My Depression Connection.


    I suppose happiness is in the eye of beholder.  One of my favorite apps which makes me happy is LOLcats  complete with photos and captions of cats who love cheeseburgers, celing and basement cats, a monorail cat, and a walrus who misses his bucket. I was once so depressed that I didn't want to leave my bed.  I didn't want to do anything.  But I went to the LOLcat site and smiled for the first time in days. 


    You never know what is going to do it for you. 


    I do believe that advances in technology will bring novel ways to increase our mental well being even if it is a much needed respite from our daily troubles.  We are living in exciting times!


    Now it is your turn.  Tell us your thoughts.  Do you think that our newest technology can help people to increase their happiness?  Have you found any apps or programs which make you feel happy?  Share your experience here.  We always love hearing from you!






Published On: August 10, 2009