A new mobile app from Australian researchers, helps teens fight mood swings and depression, and it does so by using their own choice of music.

The Music eScape app is rather brilliant. Users map out their own desired improvements to their mood, and the app accesses their iTunes library to create a customized playlist.

Queensland University of Technology psychologist and research leader Leanne Hides told the Sydney Morning Herald, “Say they’re feeling depressed, they can start in the depressed quadrant and then draw a line to happy.”

The app analyzes the general mood of songs in a users library, and then create a playlist that can actually help with mood. For example, the app can tell if a song is “chill, terrifying, fun, depressing, etc.” Using that information the app creates a “journey” that is based on the psychological model known as “valence and arousal.” That practice features a quadrant map with valence (pleasure or displeasure) on one axis, and arousal (high or low) on the other.

University of Queensland lecturer Genevieve Dingle, a researcher on the project, says the app works because the “journey” happens gradually. Dingle notes, “If I’m feeling really angry and I put really calm music on, the change might be too fast; or if I’m really sad and I put upbeat music on, it might be too irritating. We have found that a gradual change can be better [for managing mood].”

Depression Fighting Music App For Teens

The Music eScape app is not going to end depression, but the hope is that it will lower a person’s level of anxiety, while helping “energize” and “stabilize” their mood.

There is of course one disadvantage to the app, it may not help a user who only has heavy metal music within their iTunes library. At this time the app only accesses a users personal tracks, and does not use music from outside sources such as Spotify. Researchers are currently working on ‘discovery’ methods can could allow for outside music sources.

A human trial is currently underway with researchers seeking out more young people between 16-25 to participate in a trial.

An increasing number of psychological researchers are turning to mobile apps to diagnose, track and fight depression, but this is one of the first that so closely matches a treatment to a users immediate interests.

Only time will tell if the Music eScape mobile app can actually deliver on its promises to help reduce anxiety and depression in teens.