5 Free Apps to Help with Anxiety and Post-Traumatic Stress (PTSD)

March 30, 2020

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Health

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Ella Donald

For those who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other anxiety disorders, help can - increasingly - be found in your pocket, with a growing number of smartphone apps designed to make a difference. Keeping track of these reliable resources can be difficult, which is why apps can be helpful - in one place, they provide a variety of strategies that can be used instantly to help support your recovery at your convenience. These apps are not a replacement for seeking professional medical advice, but they may help support any treatment plan.

Headspace

Founder, Andy Puddicombe said "This exercise isn't about getting rid of thoughts, it's more about learning how to be at ease with them" in a recent LA Times interview.

Described as a “gym membership for your mind” Headspace offers a large number of guided meditations designed to make the practice more accessible, with fun videos and cartoons to support and give give instructions. With a legion of celebrity fans, including Emma Watson and Gwyneth Paltrow, Headspace is designed to make mindfulness easily attainable in your daily routine. Available for free (with paid options via in-app purchases) on iOS and Android, Headspace is deal for those looking to reduce anxiety through meditations that they can do anywhere. 

Note: The Headspace app is not related to Headspace Australia — the mental health foundation established by the Australian federal government to provide early intervention mental health services to youths aged 12-25 years

Calm 

Staying true to its name, Calm will do just that, at any time of day - relaxing in a tough moment, dispelling nerves, or even when falling asleep. The app offers meditations that run anywhere from 2 to 20 minutes, that also come with a variety of options for background sounds, as well as narrations. Available for free (with paid options via in-app purchases) on iOS and Android, Calm is perfect for those looking to squeeze meditations into lunch breaks, or to decompress when faced with high-stress situations. Particularly check out their Sleep Stories - since launching in 2018, you can have the likes of Stephen Fry and Matthew McConaughey lull you to sleep. 

Stop, Breathe, Think

With a plethora of customisation tools, Stop, Breathe, Think is an emotional wellness platform for the “under 25” generation, designed to “help kids, teens and young adults build the emotional strength to tackle life’s ups and downs”. Born out of Tools for Peace, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to teaching the skills of mindfulness and meditation to inner-city teens, the app first analyse your mood through a short survey and leading you through meditations based on the results. A variety of meditations are available, including the well-known Body Scan, but also Lion Mind, where you can “like a Lion, learn to notice distractions but not follow after them by focusing your attention on your breathing”. Available for free on iOS and Android, and you can also try it on an Amazon Alexa. 

PTSD Coach Australia

Inspired by a similar app offered by the US Department of Veterans’ Affairs, PTSD Coach Australia is aimed at veterans and members of the Australian Defence Force, but can help anyone seeking support through effective tools and techniques for managing anxiety. Created by The Department of Veterans Affairs, the app aims to help people understand and manage post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Featuring the capabilities to let users measure the severity of their symptoms and track results, PTSD Coach also helps users manage their health appointments, and includes information on treatment and support programs. Available for free on iOS and Android. 

Rootd 

Activated with the press of a big red button when you need it, Rootd is focused on helping you find comfort as soon as possible through mindfulness exercises and step-by-step guides to calming mechanisms. As well as prompts to bring you back to calm, Rootd aims to help you live panic attack-free by focusing on a more long-term approach. Helping you understand your symptoms and triggers and why panic attacks might happen to you, the app offers short-term lessons on changes you can make to find relief and calm, as well as longer term ones on changing your relationship with anxiety. A personal stats page logs the number of panic attacks you’ve overcome, and what activities you’ve completed. Available for free on iOS and Android. 

These apps are intended to provide general information only. We strongly recommend you seek professional help for your individual set of circumstances. A GP will be able to refer you to relevant specialists. 

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Ella Donald

Ella Donald is a journalist, university tutor, critic, and writer from Brisbane, Australia. She teaches at the University of Queensland, and writes for publications including Vanity Fair, The Guardian, GQ, The Saturday Paper, Vice, ABC, Fairfax, and news.com.au.

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