3 Ways Technology Is Being Used To Fight DepressionDepression affects millions of Americans; however, the causes aren't always the same. Most often, physicians use pharmaceuticals and cognitive therapy to treat the most common types of depression. That said, technological advances have led to alternative remedies that could support or even replace traditional treatments.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Also known as winter depression, seasonal affective disorder is a mood disorder in which sufferers experience depression during the winter months. In most cases, patients experience significant improvement when they use devices which emit bright light that mimics the effects of natural sunlight.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD)

When, people experience depression due to chronic pain, technology can play a role in solving the problem. A recent study out of Germany's Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery/Plastic Surgery sought to evaluate the link between depression and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). Ultimately, they found a strong correlation between the two. According to TMD dentist Dr. Kevin Berry, this isn't surprising, since temporomandibular joint disorder causes numerous symptoms that can make life miserable.

"People who have TMD suffer through all sorts of trying symptoms," he said. "It's hard to keep from sinking into a depressed state, when you’re enduring pain, debilitating headaches, ringing in the ears, jaw popping and chewing difficulties."

Fortunately, modern advances allow health professionals, such as Berry, to indirectly treat depression by treating the physical symptoms which promote it.

"More often than not, TMD is caused by a bad or misaligned bite," Berry said. "Modern dental technology allows us to correct this problem, which ultimately lets patients escape their debilitating symptoms and enjoy a happier life."

General Depression

Millions of Americans suffer from general depression, which cannot be traced to a specific cause. For these people, relief can be hard to come by. To provide help, researchers are fast at work developing smartphone technology that can sense when a person is feeling down and provide virtual therapy.

According to scientists at Northwestern University School of Medicine, the smartphone technology would harness all sorts of data that represent a person’s daily routines. Major shifts would prompt the application to encourage a person to engage in activities that fight off low mood and promote well-being.

Professional Help

While technology provides both patients and clinicians with better ways to treat depression; it still has a long way to go before it can take the place of health professionals. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, don't suffer in silence. Meet with a medical professional, who has the training and skills to provide a treatment that can help you enjoy a better quality of life.

Ryan Lawrence writes for Off-Topic Media. Photo by Tom Varco. Thanks to Dr. Kevin Berry for his contributions regarding TMD treatment in this story.