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Post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, can have a serious negative impact on the daily lives of those who have been through traumatic events. These people may need psychiatric help, but not everyone has access to the right care.
There are apps that claim to be able to help people who have survived traumatic events, but there is not much research on how well they actually work. To remedy this, researchers from Uppsala University conducted a study in which 179 people with PTSD were allowed to test the PTSD Coach app.
Half of the participants had to test the app while the other half had to wait. After three months, it turned out that the group that used the app had milder symptoms of post-traumatic stress and depression, compared to the control group.
"We hope that the content of this app, which among other things provides knowledge about one's reactions and contains simple exercises to relieve stress, can help people who experience post-traumatic stress to take steps towards feeling better. These people may feel that it is too difficult to even try to seek help, especially if the care is far away, if you do not know where it is or what can help. The app can also play a role after events such as major accidents or disasters", says the study's first author Ida Hensler, in a press release.
The researchers now want to go further and do larger studies to see which people the app works best for and how much benefit it can do for different people. Then the researchers also point out that the app is not intended to replace traditional care.
"We do not see the app as a substitute for good care such as psychological treatment and more knowledge is needed. But this study is the starting point for understanding the possibilities of self-help apps as a complement to the usual care for this target group. The study is particularly important because very few of the many apps that claim to alleviate mental illness have been investigated scientifically", says Ida Hensler.