Healthcare apps are not novel. But in the last couple of years, we have witnessed a massive increase in the use of apps for specific spheres of healthcare. One of the most notable ones is the use of apps to manage mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.
Mood disorders are complex. They often require ongoing therapy for years with close monitoring by a therapist or a counselor. That’s precisely why these apps are so promising. One of the uses is helping patients adhere to Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT. But that’s not the only one.
The reason why we decided to list what we believe are the top 8 apps for managing anxiety and depression, is because these mood disorders are common in people suffering from chronic conditions. Even if you have not been clinically diagnosed with anxiety or depression, you might find these apps help to reduce stress, improve your focus, mood, and recall. These will be an important part of chronic illness management, as you will discover.
So stay tuned.
Treatment tracking apps
#1 – Catch It
Catch It is a very simple mobile app with a terrific premise. It uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help patients with mood disorders realign and record their thoughts. The app was commissioned by the Universities of Liverpool and Manchester. Based on the reviews so far, it has been tremendously helpful in reducing the frequency and intensity of negative thought patterns. In fact, it has also been noted to increase positive mood patterns.
You might wonder, how this works. It’s pretty simple as we said. It features a mood diary where you record your mood on a daily basis or when faced with situations that negatively affect it. There’s a mood tracker that allows you to track your mood over a period of time, and lastly, there are tips on how to better deal with the situation by reflecting on the moment and realigning your thoughts.
P.S. – You may be unable to download this app for now in the UK because it is being reassessed after the new GDPR laws.
#2 – T2 Mood Tracker
T2 Mood Tracker was created by the Defense Health Agency for military personnel who have been witnesses to extremely traumatic events. The app helps them record their mood and emotional state over a period of weeks or months. What we like about it is that it has a very clean interface. It does lack some customization since it has only 6 preset mood options to choose from.
These are anxiety, depression, general wellbeing, head injury, and post-traumatic stress. When you select any one of these, it shows you a slider to rate your mood on the basis of the selected behavior. The app then graphs out your input over a period of days, which can be shared with your healthcare provider.
While the App has a military connection, it is one of the most useful apps for CBT, even for the general public.
#3 – MindShift
MindShift uses CBT to help users identify some of the common triggers as well as symptoms of worry, and anxiety. The app then shows you a checklist that lets users determine the exact type of anxiety they may have been experiencing. There are a few preset options that users can link to the situation closest to theirs.
Once the user identifies what they have been feeling, the app offers guided relaxation exercises and other basic cognitive behavioral therapy techniques that can help curb anxiety. What we like is that it does not use a cookie cutter template. Instead, it allows a person to create a highly individualized coping plan for common anxiety-provoking situations. In addition to this, the user has access to motivational quotes, music, and meditation techniques.
MindShift is pretty broad. It covers test anxiety, social anxiety, perfectionism, performance anxiety, conflict, and worry. But there are some great general tips that are useful for all types of anxiety.
Relaxation apps have become widely popular in recent times. That’s not surprising at all considering that the world has been dealing with one of the most stressful, unprecedented situations of all time. These apps are also used extensively in the corporate world now, because of their effectiveness in helping reduce workplace stress.
We have identified two apps for you. Although there might be more quality choices in the app marketplace.
#1 – Breathe2Relax
Breathe2Relax is a mobile app developed by the National Center for Telehealth & Technology to help people with a readily available tool to de-stress. It teaches the user diaphragmatic breathing or belly-breathing through a series of animations and narrative videos. This helps activate the body’s natural stress-busting mechanism. It’s a state of deep rest that completely alters the way you respond to stress, both physically and emotionally.
This seemingly simple technique can significantly reduce the number of times you unknowingly activate the body’s “fight or flight” mode. This, in turn, reduces cortisol levels. It can also be very helpful in anger management and mood stabilization. If you have experienced any type of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which triggers mood changes or anxiety, then Breathe2Relax might be a great choice. It is readily available, is free, and can be used as an adjuvant to any clinical therapy that you are using already.
Once again, this is indicated for use in war veterans, who commonly experience these conditions. But it can be very useful for anyone looking to master these techniques for an overall improvement in quality of life.
#2 – Relax Melodies
There are thousands of apps that offer relaxing sounds. Relax Melodies is one of the top rated ones that’s featured on CNN and many other media outlets. It has a basic free version as well as a paid version for those who seek advanced features.
The app is very simple and easy to use. The sounds are categorized, which allows you to choose the one that seems to work best for you. Some people respond better to natural sounds when they are stressed. Others need music. The app allows you to choose one based on your experiences. Alternatively, it can guide you with some of the options that seem to work best in conditions similar to yours.
There are tons of sounds, with the option to create mixes where you can adjust the levels of each sound in the mix. For instance, you can pick a 5 Hz sound wave for deep sleep and mix it with the sound of rain falling on the roof. You can even set goals such as better sleep, improved focus, and better recall.
The premium plan offers guided meditations and movements that can help your body declutter and get ready for sleep.
People with mental health issues often face accountability problems, in addition to procrastination. These apps help improve accountability, adherence and can also be very helpful for networking with support groups close to your place.
#1 – Project Toe
Project Toe is a completely anonymous community of users who have struggled with numerous mental health problems in the past. Depression, stress, anxiety, SAD, alcoholism, cancer, substance abuse, name it and you can share it with the community, who will empathize with your condition.
The app was built on the premise of social support or social therapy and shows how social support can have a positive influence on some of the most debilitating mental health conditions.
By the way, you can also help others who are in a similar situation like yours, which you may have overcome. What we like about it is that there are more than 3000 support groups listed with Project Toe, which covers most of the conditions that can cause severe mental problems. If you feel lonely or have self-harm thought patterns, we recommend that you check Project Toe.
#2 – Koko
Koko is an app that uses a similar premise to Project Toe. It lets users express their thoughts, fears, and insecurities, allowing a peer-to-peer community of users to help them realign their thoughts. A lot of teenagers look for answers to their fears and anxieties on the internet. Koko is one of the most popular mental health apps that has been very successful in helping them cope with social isolation, depression, and anxiety. It has also proven to be helpful in changing suicidal thoughts.
Koko was created by Robert Morris, a Princeton psychology major and later an MIT Media Lab grad. Morris created a thesis called Panoply, for a peer-to-peer mental health network. This eventually turned into Koko.
Many a time, you might be experiencing symptoms. But maybe unsure of what it is or how to deal with it. Peer-to-peer apps can definitely help in such situations. But if you just want to do some research or are a caregiver to someone who’s undergoing a rough time, you can check out this app.
NIH Depression Information
This is an app designed by the National Institutes of Health that offers comprehensive, factual information on depression. The information never reads like a science journal. Instead, it is nearly laid out in categories like symptoms, probable causes, right diagnosis, and the best possible treatments and therapies.
To Sum it up
While it can be tricky to narrow down on a mental health app, while you are experiencing some of these conditions, we recommend that you resist the temptation to download more than what you will use. Stick to one app, try it out and only download another one if this doesn’t work for you. You might initially find that some apps have a steep learning curve. But work your way up. Don’t jump start everything at one go, as it can trigger anxiety too.