“There’s an app for that!” Have you heard that saying before? In our society, people value the convenience and accessibility of apps. According to an article written by Forbes Magazine in 2020, there are currently 8.93 million apps available for your smartphone or tablet. Yeah, there’s an app for every situation that you might find yourself in – apps to track sleep, monitor food habits, take notes, organize, listen to podcasts, read books, etc. With all these apps, it can be tricky to find one specific to your needs. Just one App Store search for “anxiety apps” can yield thousands of apps touting their success in minimizing stress & anxiety. While these apps might not cure your anxiety, they can be beneficial in supplementing individual counseling. In this blog, we are going to take a look at apps that help anxiety.

Can An App Really Help My Anxiety?

With so many apps claiming success, you might be wondering about the credibility of anxiety apps. Here are some things to consider:

  • Apps can help you identify and recall symptoms. There are some apps that do a good job of describing symptoms. Maybe you didn’t even realize you were experiencing a symptom of anxiety or maybe you forgot to tell your therapist which symptoms you have experienced. Apps can provide a great way to identify, track, and share symptoms.
  • Many apps are based on evidence-based theoretical frameworks. Many apps use some concepts from evidence-based therapy modalities. The types of evidence-based therapy modalities include cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, etc. According to Wasil et al (2019), relaxation, psychoeducation, and self-monitoring were found to be three of the top CBT concepts used in apps to help with anxiety symptoms. Mindshift and CBT Thought Diary are two apps that use concepts from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
  • Apps can be a good way to work on what you learned in therapy in between your sessions. Some therapists like to give out homework as a way to bring to life the concepts that were discussed in the session. If you are like me, sometimes you don’t want to write on paper because you are trying to save some trees or you might not be able to keep up with your therapy notebook. So using an app is a good way to review concepts that might have been discussed in your sessions. I talk with my clients about tracking thoughts and practicing meditation as ways to manage symptoms of anxiety. Instead of looking at a Youtube channel or keeping track of paper, an app is a great way to have one place to store these types of assignments in one place. This way, you can have easy access to resources even if you’re experiencing anxiety at the grocery store or movie theater.
  • Some mental health apps have serious support. Multiple national mental health organizations, including the United States National Institute of Mental Health and the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, have come out on record stating that some mental health apps are “cost-effective and scalable solutions to addressing the mental health treatment gap.” However, keep in mind that not all apps are created equal and these national organizations are praising specific, evidence-based apps.

Which Apps Should I Consider Using For My Anxiety?

Now that you know how apps can help, you might be wondering which apps are good for anxiety. We understand that finances and resources may be limited, so we are sharing both free and paid (less than $100 per year) apps. Below are 5 apps that can help with anxiety:

  1. Calm: This is a meditation app that can improve sleep quality, reduce stress, and improve focus. The meditations can help you throughout the day – from boosting motivation & jumpstarting your day to winding down for quality sleep at night. Additionally, the app has a daily check that helps you identify how you feel in the moment or before and after meditation. Calm provides several tools for mindfulness such as meditation techniques, mindful movement practices, calming (or energy-boosting) music, and soothing nature scenes and sounds to incorporate. The app can be helpful for anyone – whether you’re a mindfulness beginner or a pro at practicing mindfulness.
  2. MindShift: This app provides tips on how to improve sleep, become more active, have fun, and connect with friends. This app also allows you to identify SMART goals related to anxiety. One important part of wellness is connecting with other people. I like that this app provides specific tips on how to make socialization a priority. And it is totally free.
  3. Wysa: This AI-driven app allows the user to: manage their health, practice wellness, increase happiness, manage anxiety, improve sleep, etc. It has tools and exercises for addressing anxiety, chronic illness, relationships, and emotional resilience. You can easily set-up reminders throughout the day to encourage you to incorporate tasks that bring you joy or satisfaction.
  4. CBT Thought Diary: This app is based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – in addition to Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Positive Psychology – principles. It offers a daily mood tracker, guided journals, and crash courses. The app provides various types of mindfulness and meditation training. It also has an assessment feature that can help you gauge your current emotional and cognitive state. There are functions that allow you to debrief from a therapy session, prepare for your session (even your first session!), and reflect on each therapy session. This is a good app to use to track any progress you have made between sessions and identify what could be discussed in the next session.
  5. Finch: Did you have a Gigapet or Tamagotchi growing up? This app lets you have your own digital pet that grows as you become more mindful! It allows you to set goals meant for self-improvement – with skills like deep breathing, meditation, and even simple reminders to yourself to drink water. You can also add friends to your Tree Town neighborhood (even if they don’t have the app) to incorporate social support! These basic strategies lead to a lifestyle more suited towards self-care and regulation, both of which are essential when dealing with anxiety.

What About Apps For Relationships?

For many, relationship stress is a major anxiety trigger. Being proactive in increasing secure attachment with your partner can make a significant difference. With that in mind, here are 2 apps we recommend for couples:

  1. Paired: This is an app for couples that can help build communication and deeper intimacy through quizzes and help address meaningful topics in relationships.
  2. Gottman Card Decks: This app offers several methods to develop greater attachment and connection on a date night.

The goal of an app is not to replace therapy but to supplement therapy. According to the American Psychological Association, an app can offer a “gateway” to receiving mental health services. If someone finds an app to be helpful, they could be motivated to seek out counseling.

Garrett Counseling takes pride in having counselors who are trained in evidence-based therapies. We have several counselors who are available to support you. If you need help with managing your stress or anxiety, please call Garrett Counseling today at (256) 239-5662.

For more blogs on technology and mental health:

This article was written by LaTasha Toney, Ben Lighter, Leah Simmons, MS, LPC-S, RPT-S, and Lynsey Leopard, LPC.

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