7 Best Anxiety Apps To Help Manage Your Anxiety
Anxiety management has begun to enter the world of technology. Anxiety apps for smart phones, iPods, and other high-tech gadgets offer anxiety self-help to anyone who has access to such a device.
Do Apps for Anxiety Work?
Researchers in the field of mental health have begun to study the effectiveness of anxiety management apps. The findings are promising. A recent study indicates that apps can indeed be helpful; for example, IntelliCare, a group of apps that helps with anxiety, has been shown to reduce the severity of anxiety of symptoms by 50 percent—approximately the same improvement seen in therapy or with medication (Gregoire, 2017). Additionally, apps make anxiety help accessible to people who otherwise don’t have access to in-person mental health help.
Not all apps are equally credible, though. Gregoire (2017) discusses research indicating that more than 80 percent of apps haven’t been tested or proven effective. This is due in large part to the fact that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States doesn’t regulate mental health apps. Further muddying the water is that most apps are created by app developers rather than by mental health professionals.
Apps to Help with Anxiety
Pitfalls aside, anxiety apps can truly help manage anxiety when you find the right one. Generally, a valid app has been developed by mental health professionals who know what helps and what does not. Below is a list of seven of the best self-help anxiety management apps. All were created by mental health professionals or other experts in the field, and all have been reviewed and approved by other mental health professionals who have no conflict of interest with the apps.
- IntelliCare by Northwestern Medicine and funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH). This is actually a suite, or grouping, of mini-apps that are designed to be used frequently and in little bursts at a time. IntelliCare focuses on building skills needed to relieve and reduce anxiety. Among the 12 mini-apps are Worry Knot to teach worry management, Purple Chill to develop relaxation skills, and iCope to create coping messages to use when you need them. The skills taught are based on proven, research-based techniques used by therapists.
- MindShift by AnxietyBC (Anxiety Disorders Association of British Columbia). Originally created for teens and young adults, this anxiety management app can be used by adults as well. MindShift helps people overcome all diagnosed anxiety disorders as well as self-help for stress, worry, performance anxiety, perfectionism, and text anxiety. This app teaches skills and provides coping strategies and skills. It seeks to help with thoughts, emotions, and behaviors to create balance as anxiety diminishes.
- Self-Help Anxiety Management (SAM) by the University of the West of England. SAM provides information, helpful external links, guidance, and 25 self-help options to help you manage your anxiety in a way that works for you. With this anxiety app, you can use resources provided to build an anxiety management toolkit. It also includes a closed social network of SAM users so you can connect with others who are also working to reduce anxiety.
- Anxiety Coach App by the Mayo Clinic. Anxiety Coach uses cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to decrease your fears and worries. With this anxiety app you can take a self-test, create a plan to reduce anxiety, track your anxiety, and monitor your progress. This app focuses primarily on your anxious negative thoughts. The Anxiety Coach App is currently only available for iPhone.
- Breathe2Relax by National Center for Telehealth and Technology, part of the Department of Defense and Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury. Because proper breathing is crucial to stress and anxiety reduction, this is a useful app for learning breathing exercises for anxiety and stress and teaching body scanning to induce relaxation. The app is interactive so you can customize your own breathing pace. It offers helpful information to read, charts to track your deep breathing and relaxation progress.
- Headspace by two experts, one a Buddist monk and clinical practitioner. Headspace is an app exclusively focused on learning meditation for anxiety and stress reduction. This app helps with anxiety by increasing deep breathing, mindfulness, relaxation, and concentration.
- Panic Relief by a psychiatrist and CBT specialist. Panic Relief is an app for anxiety management that contains four simple tools to control panic, anxiety, and stress. Two of the tools teach deep breathing techniques, and the other two teach progressive muscle relaxation.
Each of these apps truly helps with self-help anxiety management. Of course, every person, and every person’s anxiety, is unique. Apps aren’t one-size-fits-all, so for greatest satisfaction with your anxiety apps, pick the one(s) that appeal to you. Then, with an anxiety app to help manage your anxiety, you can take your tools wherever you go and use it when you need them to effectively reduce anxiety.
Last Updated: 17 May 2017
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD