The Apple Watch is being used to monitor patients with depression thanks to a specially designed app developed in Cambridge.

Brain testing experts Cambridge Cognition have teamed up with big pharma firm Takeda to produce the app to assess cognitive function in patients with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) as part of a new study.

Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting an estimated 350 million people of all ages. Cognitive problems are common in major depression and may be under recognized by both patients the leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting an estimated 350 million people of all ages. Cognitive problems are common in major depression and may be under recognized by both patients.

Cognitive testing provides the opportunity to detect and understand the pattern of cognitive symptoms in patients with MDD.

The app, designed by Cambridge Cognition’s wearables division, Cognition Kit, is seen as a step forward in assessing those symptoms, advancing patient assessment and monitoring outside of the lab and into everyday life to help maximize patient engagement and potential treatment.

The study will involve 30 participants, aged 18-65 with a clinical diagnosis of mild to moderate depression who have been prescribed an antidepressant for MDD. It aims to evaluate feasibility, compliance and to understand how measures of mood and cognition on wearable technology compare to more traditional neuropsychological testing and patient reported assessments. The output of the study is expected in the first half of 2017.

“By combining wearable technology with world leading neuroscience, we’ve created an app that collects real time passive and active high-frequency mental health data,” said Jenny Barnett from Cognition Kit. “Being able to access data regularly from daily life can help clinical decision making. Healthcare professionals can obtain patient data and increase patient engagement in their treatment.”