Making Headway

A self-support tool for recurring depression – employing a balance of both positive suggestion and self-monitoring

‘Making Headway’ is an exploration into the debilitating illness of depression; an illness that affects 15% of us at some point in our lives. This disease consumes both body and mind, affecting our motivation, self-esteem, energy and engagement with the people and environment around us.

Undoubtedly, the emotional triggers and circumstances around depression are irrepressible, so how can we start to provide a positive long-term support, in parallel or beyond existing methods of medication and infrequent therapy? Furthermore, how can we empower people within their illness, helping them to take the active steps towards understanding their triggers and equally, their mood-lifters?

Headway is a self-support tool for recurring depression, employing a balance of both positive suggestion and self-monitoring. The service and device respond to a future inauguration of an emerging technology, which wirelessly senses the change in chemical levels in the brain, namely the neurotransmitters linked with depression, serotonin and dopamine.

With subtle communication of real-time serotonin levels through your dedicated channel and device, the service encourages you to self-identify behaviours that may trigger depression, as well as acknowledging the activities that are successful in lifting your mood. In identifying the irregularities of levels, the service can give suggestions, which importantly, are defined by the user with professional and friend/family support. This infrastructure allows the service to evolve as certain behaviours become noticeable, or alternatively, prompts become ineffective.

For some, the trigger of their depression can go unnoticed and the steep fall into a depressive state can be hard to prevent. If the more physical signals of depression can be communicated, how might this initiate a different approach to how it is battled?

This concept poses many questions over the learnings, and possible failings, of such a technology and the acknowledgment of depression as a disease. Importantly, it places value on encouraging the positive steps required to maintain an element of hope and empowerment within their day to day.

Adviser: Gitte Jonsdatter