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Finding Optimism

Cure Together – Treatments for Depression

Cure Together has just published a very interesting chart on treatments for depression.

CureTogether is a community based health site, where members share their health concerns, symptoms and treatments. It has grown very quickly over the last couple of years, and the “crowd-sourcing” of health data is really starting to bear fruit. Kudos to Cure Together!

In compiling the chart, anonymous information was collected from 944 people in their Depression community.

Perhaps not surprisingly, exercise is rated as both the most popular and effective treatment. For us depressed folk, it is also one of the hardest to start and continue with. Especially when we need it most. Maintaining good sleep habits was also found to be popular and effective. Again one of the first things to depart with the arrival of depression.

I think it’s odd that people consider caffeine to be a treatment, even if a less helpful one. Odd, because in large quantities caffeine acts as a depressant; it releases stress hormones like adrenalin. I’m acutely aware of this. My addiction to strong, freshly roasted Australian coffee is incompatible with bipolar, at both ends of the spectrum.

Cure Together also released an ebook a week ago, called “The CureTogether Guide to Depression” and subtitled “How to Find a Treatment That Works: Research Results and Practical Advice”. I haven’t purchased it yet, but for $10 it sounds like a bargain. This is exactly this kind of patient centered research that has real potential for improving the body of knowledge, influencing the direction of clinical research, and ultimately improving health outcomes. (To be clear, I don’t have a relationship with Cure Together and no financial interest in promoting this book).

Another similar but much older resource can be found at the Australian National University’s Blue Pages site. Its survey of treatments is based on clinical, not patient-generated research, but the results dovetail nicely.

On a related note, many people who use our desktop and online applications have authorized the anonymous use of their data for scientific research. The proportion opting in has been exceptional – somewhere between 40% and 50%.

Later this year we will have sufficient data to start analyzing correlations between the items being tracked. The results will be freely available. It is my fervent belief that the Optimism community will also make a helpful contribution to the body of knowledge on mental health.

The research will be done in collaboration with a well regarded U.S. university, in addition to a more formal study on how the apps can change a person’s relationship with their physician and the quality of their treatment.

Watch this space! :)

Original article at