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Winning the battle against anxiety and depression with technology

Sruthi Srinivasan
20th Jun 2016
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Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental health concerns in our society. They are experienced as a complex set of emotional and functional challenges that are often interlinked. There are several situational triggers to these disorders such as losing a loved one, getting fired from a job and going through a divorce, to name a few. But situational triggers are just one reason for these mood dysfunctions. Some people also inherit them genetically. Anxiety and depression can last for months and even years for no apparent reason, making every day functioning difficult. These fearful thoughts are annoying, at worst, it is debilitating and isolating.

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Since we live in a digital age, coping strategies have also extended to the digital realm. Here are a few apps which have been developed to help individuals deal with anxiety and depression.

PACIFICA

Pacifica is an app for stress, anxiety and worry based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, relaxation and wellness. It was founded in 2014 by a three member team - Dale Beerman, Chris Goettel and Christine Moberg in San Francisco.

Pacifica has six features which makes it efficient to work with.‘Track your mood’, helps one rate their mood as it changes throughout the day; ‘Track your health’, tracks daily health habits like exercise, sleep and caffeine intake; ‘Relaxation technique’, helps calm the mind through meditation and deep breathing; ‘Daily goals’, helps one tackle small goals each day; ‘Thought diary’ helps one learn to identify and correct distorted thinking patterns; and ‘Mood History’, discovers trends in the mood chart and health habits that improve one’s mood. This app also does a terrific job of helping people change their negative thoughts to positive ones.

It can be used by both teens and adults. It also helps one have private groups and public communities where one can share stories and give advice. Pacifica works on iOS, Android and Web.

LIVE OCD FREE

Approximately 2.3% of the population between ages 18-54 suffer from OCD. There are relatively very few OCD specialists when compared to the staggering amount of sufferers. This prompted a team of seven persons headed by Dr Kristen Mulcahy to create an app to help individuals to try and live an OCD-free life. It is an interactive application designed to guide users through the only evidence-based treatment - Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

The child and adult sections are marked differently. For adult users, this app will help create exercises to diminish OCD symptoms, set practice goals and rewards to increase motivation and consistency. The children’s version, while serving the same functions as the adult version, is game-like and engaging. Other useful features are hierarchy-based ERP exercises, a cognitive tool kit and an ERP reminder

Developed by Pocket Therapist Lcc., this app works on iOS 5.0 and later operating systems. It is compatible with iphone, ipad, ipod and itouch .

MINDSHIFT

Targeted to help adolescents, teens and young adults gain insight into their problems (including General Anxiety Disorder, social anxiety, specific phobias, panic attacks, worry, performance anxiety, test anxiety, and perfectionism) and manage their symptoms. It also contains relaxation exercises. Users can ‘favourite’ the method which works best for them. MindShift is the work of a joint collaboration between AnxietyBC, and BC Children’s Hospital.

WHAT’S MY M3?

The M3 is essentially a mental health score. The application gives you a customised assessment report which organises responses over a range of mood disorders which helps patients and their advisors serve their health care needs. It also helps one monitor their score and see how their mental health is changing over time. They have a two-step scoring procedure which makes the screening quite efficient. The Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview is used as the diagnostic standard.

The M-3 can reduce missed psychiatric diagnoses and facilitate proper treatment of identified cases. The skills taught may help those with major depression, bipolar, anxiety disorders and PTSD. The app was created by primary collaborators Robert M. Post, Bernard M. Snyder, Michael L. Byer and Gerald Hurowitz. It is available on android , iOS and Windows.

POSITIVE THINKING

All of us love reading inspiring quotes and feeling inspired. Downloading the positive thinking app can assist one access positive, motivational quotes made by famous people at their finger tips. This app keeps one on track with the right mindset to succeed by sending quotes of eminent people who have achieved their highest levels of success in life. A Widget allows one to display a customised quote on one’s home screen.

This application provides one with a positive affirmation list. They have a regularly updated positivity blog which encourages people and helps them reaffirm their goals. It was developed by a Sydney-based software developer Jason Whatson. The app is available on Google Play Store.

PANIC RELIEF

Panic Relief is targeted to help individuals with panic disorder through easy-to-use coping tools to manage panic attacks. It was developed by a Danish psychiatrist Marianne Breds Geoffroy.

It has four tools to help one cope with panic. ‘Arm’ – which is a neuromuscular relaxation method, ‘Chest’ – which helps one discover their normal breathing pattern and prevent hyperventilation, ‘Square’ – which helps gain both visual and mental focus and ‘Body’ – which provides a visualization exercise. The free version includes access to progressive muscle relaxation of the arm. The upgrade allows access to the rest of the skills. The short animated cartoons help learn how to use these tools. This app is available on Google Play.

WORRY WATCH

Often, we worry and get anxious about everyday things. Later, we realise that most of that worry was unnecessary and sometimes even irrational. Yet, we continue to worry about similar things even after this. Such worry goes on endlessly. Worry Watch can help track thoughts that worry you and also reminds you to log the outcomes. This password-protected app lets you journal your worries. Once your apprehension is typed, the app runs a report and to inform you how the same worry was tackled previously and tells you that things aren’t as bad as it seems. This app is available on iOS.

A stress free life helps one nourish one’s spirit and put their true self at the centre of their life. Stress free people live a more balanced life where all areas of focus get the attention they require. The smile on their face to the boundless energy with which they move exemplifies positivity which most people dream of. So why not live a joyous life with the help of these applications.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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