According to the American Anxiety and Depression Association, anxiety disorders are the most widespread mental illness in the United States. More than 49 million American adults suffer from some form of anxiety and only 36.9% of them seek professional help. In addition, statistics report that only 10% of those in therapy receive effective treatment.
By providing the patient with a mobile application for anxiety, a therapist invests in greater treatment success. After all, a large part of therapeutic success depends on the success a patient has in learning anxiety management techniques and following the guidance of their mental health care professional in general.
Below are the features of the app that can support the efforts of mental health care professionals and help patients practice the techniques they learn in therapy.
Helps relieve stress
The main goal of an anti-anxiety application is to help the patient overcome physical and psychological stress and relax. However, finding a relaxation technique that works is one of the most difficult parts of treating anxiety. Different things work for different patients, and even mental health specialists can’t always know for sure what will help and what won’t help a particular person.
Anxiety applications offer a large number of functions with various methods of relaxation at work, which allow a patient to try them all and find what suits him best. Features may include separate sets of soothing audio and visual tracks, interactive meditation sessions (combining soothing music and images), as well as manuals of breathing techniques and gamification elements that we will describe in more detail below.
Manuals of breathing techniques
Breathing is often the first aspect of relaxation that mental health professionals explain to their anxious patients. However, a patient may forget everything their therapists told them in a stressful situation. This is where an app comes in and introduces an automatic breathing manual that shows the count at which a person should breathe deeply and constantly.
Because anxiety-induced hypoxia and hyperventilation are psychosomatic symptoms, it is often the key to convincing a patient that he or she is OK. Thus, in addition to the counter, the application screen can display a calming animation of the lungs filling with oxygen. This animation psychologically persuades a person who inhales oxygen and does not drown, as people with these symptoms can sometimes feel. As a result, a person starts repeating automatically after the animation and calms down.
Many patients find it difficult to relax until they manage to be completely distracted from the thoughts that induce anxiety. Interactivity plays an important role here, as it helps capture a person’s attention and change the direction of their thoughts.
Questionnaire-like tasks are among the usual interactive methods for those suffering from anxiety. They ask patients to remember and write a specific number of things that, for example, share a certain color or quality. Together with a patient, a therapist can customize these tasks to make the questions generated by the app unique and engaging. In addition, anxiety apps can contain real games such as puzzles, pets, and virtual plants or word games, which are both engaging and relaxing.
Followers of physical symptoms
While all the physical symptoms of anxiety are, of course, uncomfortable, some of them pose a greater risk than others. Symptoms such as high blood pressure peaks or palpitations are dangerous regardless of the cause and can also scare a person, thus increasing their anxiety.
Anxiety apps can play a role in tracking devices that immediately collect and analyze health data – for example, a camera phone’s camera lens can read a person’s heart rate. Special medical devices can also be connected to a smartphone or tablet to allow tracking of more complex test results, such as blood pressure measurement.
Once the app automatically copies the data to the log, it displays an estimate: whether the results are unusual compared to those in the log history and whether they are objectively alarming or not. If health measures require care, the app will recommend that you contact a healthcare professional. You can also automatically send a message to a therapist.
In case the results are not alarming but still not good, the app will explain how a user can cope with the condition on their own. The instructions depend on the measures and may include simple tips such as resting and taking some air or an additional intake of medications approved by a mental health professional.
Since medication regimens for anxiety disorders usually include more than three types of medications in different doses, having an electronic medication plan with reminders of medication intake can make things a lot easier for the patient. And a therapist may also find this feature useful.
A mental health professional will first need to create an individual medication plan on their mobile device and then make it available to their patient. A patient will receive periodic reminders for each medication intake and will mark each pill as a “take” on the plan. This way, a therapist can check if a patient is following the scheme correctly at any time.
In addition, a mental health specialist will be able to make planned adjustments to the medication schedule: for example, whether to dose the dose of a particular medication after it has been taken for a certain period. After updating the schedule, a therapist can send a notification to their patient to draw their attention to the changes.
On a final note
Since the success of mental health treatment depends largely on the patient, who empowers him mobile technology can speed recovery. Anxiety applications that offer stress relief techniques, monitoring physical symptoms, and medication plan can help patients cope with their condition and take steps to overcome it.