We’ve gathered together a selection of the best apps for Android and iOS that can help you manage, control and avoid anxiety and panic attacks.
Anxiety has psychological symptoms – feelings of panic, a racing mind and feeling afraid – but also physical symptoms: your heart rate quickens, and your breathing can become faster and shallow.
You may feel faint or dizzy, sweat, feel tingling in your hands and fingers, or suffer from a headache or stomach ache.
The methods of managing a panic attack can also vary between people – you may prefer breathing exercises, meditating, using a stress ball, counting or focusing on a pattern.
No app can replace the guidance and advice of a professional, but for mild to moderate panic attacks and daily anxiety levels these apps can give you the tools to help yourself.
Stop Panic & Anxiety Self-Help is available for free on Android, and uses Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) techniques to help if you’re suffering from a Panic Disorder. It concentrates on managing the symptoms of anxiety with audio recordings to help you relax, along with Panic Assistance sessions to talk you through any panic attacks by focusing your attention.
The audio sessions include Mindful Grounding, so you can focus on your immediate environment rather than feelings of panic, 50 tools for Exposure Methods, so you gradually learn to cope in stressful situations, and sessions to improve your rational thinking. Colour therapy is used, so you associate certain colours with specific emotions and improve control by imagining the colours flowing through you.
There’s also an Anxiety Diary so you can monitor your symptoms over time. Over seven screens you select the emotions and intensity that you experienced, how distressed you were, your thoughts, and irrational beliefs. The app then uses CBT to repeat rational statements, to challenge your irrational fears until they become weaker.
This free app is available on both Android and iOS and sets out to help users overcome anxiety, reduce stress and sleep better too. Immerse yourself in a relaxing, supportive and soothing environment inside the app.
Listen to calming audio sessions, divided into categories which include ‘De-Stress’, ‘Anxiety’ and ‘ASMR’, which guide you to a calmer place. Use the tips section for advice covering many topics such as how to overcome anxiety, release painful emotions and how to deal with negative thoughts, then check in with uplifting messages which support users throughout the day.
A very important part of overcoming anxiety is identifying your triggers, tracking your habitual thoughts and noticing improvements. With the tracker on this app, you can keep a log every day and use it to identify and evaluate your thinking patterns and anxiety triggers.
Calm for Apple and Calm for Android offers help with one of eight goals, including Better Sleep, Improve Focus and Learn to Meditate. If you select Reduce Anxiety. An annual subscription to the guided meditations costs £2.99 a month, but there are also five free features available; the most simple is a circular animation for breath control that can help with a panic attack. You can adjust the timing for between four and eight breaths per minute, and you can set reminders to complete a mindfulness session every day.
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Inner Balance app, free (requires HRV sensor, around £160)
Inner Balance for Android and Inner Balance for Apple is designed to help people who use breath control and monitor their heart rate to manage panic attacks. It works with the BlueTooth HeartMath HRV sensor that clips onto your earlobe and measures your heart rate (and a Lightning connector for iOS devices is also available).
It recommends three sessions a day, for between three and five minutes, which will help you synchronise and restore your emotional balance. From monitoring these results it will give you feedback on your heart rhythms, training you out of ‘fight or flight’ and into calm.
Fast Calm for Apple uses visual exercises to help you control your breathing, focusing your attention away from feelings of panic and worrying thoughts. You follow a dot around the screen starting at the bottom, breathe in as the dot moves upwards and then hold your breath as it goes across the top. As the dot goes down you breathe out, and then hold your breath again as it moves along the bottom.
The speed of your breath is adjusted with the + and – buttons, and there’s a series of attractive landscapes scenes to look at that change after each sequence of breathing. It’s simple but effective.