MoodKit, WorryWatch, MindShift, Breathe2Relax, Headspace: There’s no shortage of mobile apps you can download to help you manage anxiety or monitor your state of mind. But how can you choose which one best suits you? We consulted Arpan Waghray, M.D., a psychiatrist with Swedish Health Services, a Providence affiliate, in Seattle.
Below are five of Dr. Waghray’s favorite apps. Follow the links for more information about each one.
- Headspace – The HeadSpace app is billed as “meditation made simple.” The app is intended to help users reduce stress by teaching them mindfulness skills, including breathing exercises and tips for better concentration. For beginners, it teaches how to establish a meditation routine. “I have benefited greatly from using Headspace and principles of mindfulness in maintaining my work-life blend,” says Dr. Waghray. Free 10-day trial, $7.99-$12.95 monthly subscription thereafter. Available for Apple from iTunes and for Android from Google Play.
- NIH Depression – The app from the National Institutes of Health contains a trove of resources on depression, with sections on symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatments. It also includes a section on how to get help for yourself or a loved one suffering from depression. “It’s very simple, but it provides high-quality, good information,” says Dr. Waghray. Free. Available for Android from Google Play.
- PTSD Coach – This app, developed and distributed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, is intended to help people deal with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. While it was developed with military veterans in mind, it is suitable for anyone coping with the aftereffects of trauma. The app is “very practical,” says Dr. Waghray, who started his professional career in the VA. Free. Available from iTunes and Google Play. Also available in French.
- SAM – Short for Self-Help Anxiety Management, this user-friendly app is intended to help people monitor and manage anxious thoughts and behaviors. It’s aimed at older teens and adults. “Again,” says Dr. Waghray, “it’s easy to use and of high quality.” Free. Available for Apple devices from iTunes and Android devices from Google Play.
- MindShift – This app, developed for teens and young adults by the Anxiety Disorders Association of British Columbia, aims to help users relax and take steps to manage their anxieties. In particular, it is intended to improve their emotional balance as they face feared situations. Tools include breathing exercises, mental imagery and coping strategies. Free. Available for Apple from iTunes and for Android on Google Play.
Dr. Waghray cites another five apps that have caught his attention:
- Ginger io – This app offers support and actual therapy for a monthly fee, beginning at $129 a month.
- Quartet Health – The app connects primary health care providers with mental health specialists so that patients receive seamless care. “Think of this as the e-harmony for behavioral health,” says Dr. Waghray.
- KnKt`d – This is a client-management app for health care providers.
- Litesprite – Designed to help people struggling with depression, this app engages users via game playing. Says Dr. Waghray: “I loved the concept.”
- Lyra Health - Providence has invested in this app, which provides personalized care with care navigators and on-call therapists.