Tech, Now + Beyond

These 7 apps help with depression, anxiety, and panic attacks

Everyone needs something slightly (or very) different, but thankfully, there's an app for everything!

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Depression and anxiety can strike quite literally anytime of the day and anywhere, which is only a small part of what makes these illnesses so frightening. But, there are several resources out there that can instantly be downloaded on your phone, and can help out at a moment’s notice.

These 7 mobile apps are geared toward different aspects of mental health, and can specifically help with depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.

1. Pacifica

Screenshots of Pacifica App

Although it looks like the average mood-tracking app (and it’s definitely great for tracking your mood), Pacifica has a “Goals” page in which you can formulate a list of tasks you need to get done which can be checked off whenever the task is complete. What makes this feature unique is that for each goal that is entered, the user is asked to rate its level of difficulty from 1 to 10. After the task is complete, the user is asked how difficult the task really was. The app then reminds the user of their initial difficulty rating.

This is an awesome feature for individuals with anxiety, because you get to see every day the difference between your expectations and reality. For example, I always choose 10 at first, and over time I’ve realized that not one task has ever been level-10-difficulty in reality. I use this app every day and it has definitely helped me become more self-aware and subsequently change my mindset into a more positive one.

Pacifica can really help people suffering from anxiety. Click To Tweet

Pacifica also has some great cognitive behavioral therapy activities, such as one feature that allow you to write down your negative thoughts and, step by step, rework them into positive ones. The steps include highlighting negative words or phrases within your thought, identifying what makes each word or phrase that you’ve written unhealthy or irrational (the most difficult part of the process), and then replacing those words and phrases with better ones.

2. Calm

What’s great about Calm is that it has a lot of free content that can be reused; if you’re trying to cut back on costs, you can use the free content and avoid potential in-app purchases. 

Moreover, Calm offers a different set of meditations for different needs, including self-esteem, calming anxiety, managing stress, focus, gratitude, happiness, and even sleep! Some of the meditations are specifically for when you are on a commute, some are guided whereas others are just for breathing, and others are as short as 3 minutes, so there’s something for everyone. This is another app that I use every day at least once, because studies show that consistent meditation has wonderful effects on your brain.

Calm offers different sets of meditations based on your needs. Click To Tweet

3. Pomodoro

Pomodoro App Screenshot

Pomodoro may not seem like an app for your mental health. But it is.

For those of us who suffer from depression and/or anxiety, focus is almost always an issue, as is motivation and productivity due to changes in mood. Pomodoro is a great way to keep yourself on task on days when you don’t have energy, as it allows for scheduled breaks and provides you with a cute little tomato every time you complete a portion of work (which is oddly psychologically satisfying). Personally, I like to use this when I’m working on something and so are my friends – we use the scheduled breaks as opportunities to talk to other, until the app tells us it’s time to get back to work.

4. At Ease

At Ease App Screenshot

At Ease is an app for journaling your thoughts and feelings. More specifically, it teaches you how to journal effectively during moments of anxiety and guides you through the process step-by-step. In fact, there is an audio portion to each step of the journaling process that the user can listen to before journaling to keep them on track! For people who go to therapy regularly, this is a great app to use so that you can easily, and in detail, remember and reference events in your recent life during conversations with your therapist.

At Ease teaches you how to effectively journal during anxiety and guides you step-by-step. Click To Tweet

5. iSleep Easy

iSleep Easy App Screenshot

iSleep offers various guided meditations to listen to as you fall asleep, for those of us who have trouble sleeping due to anxiety or anything else. What makes this app special is the individualized nature of the meditations – the user has several options available in terms of volume, how many meditations and which ones you want to listen to back to back, background music, nature sounds, length, etc. You can even choose how long the music or sounds last after the affirmations portion of the meditation is over, so that it doesn’t come to an abrupt end.

iSleep helps guided meditations if you can't fall asleep- it's been super helpful with anxiety. Click To Tweet

6. Panic Relief

Panic Relief App Screenshot

Panic Relief addresses the physical aspects of a panic attack more than the mental aspect of anxiety. It focuses on 4 separate key areas (chest, breathing, arms, and full body) and provides not only instructions on how to relax your body during a heightened state of panic, but images/cartoons to lead you to a place of physical calm. This app is important primarily because panic often needs to be addressed physically before any kind of productive mental reasoning can even take place.

Panic Relief gives instructions on how to relax your body during a heightened state of panic. Click To Tweet

7. Code Blue

Code Blue App Screenshot

Code Blue, although originally designed to help young people affected by depression or bullying, is one last great resource that could potentially benefit individuals with various health problems. In terms of mental health specifically, the very symptoms of depression and anxiety prevent the sufferer from reaching out to others for support, so this app makes that process easier. Many individuals struggle to put their feelings and therefore their needs into words, making it difficult for their loved ones to know how to respond.

Code Blue lets users notify their loved ones during panic attacks and self-harm triggers. Click To Tweet

With Code Blue, users can simply notify or ping their loved ones in times of need and their location will also be sent out to their chosen friends and family. For example, this would be useful if you are about to have a severe panic attack and you are in public and in need of in-person support, or if you are in danger of self-harming. The most important information (that you do not want to be, or are scared to be, alone) is provided to the most important people immediately.

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Aafia Syed

Aafia Syed

Aafia is pursuing a Master's in Early Childhood Special Education at Bank Street College of Education. She is vocal about her personal challenges with mental illness and believes in bringing an end to both cultural and religious taboos. Her goals for the future include seeing Hamilton on Broadway, overcoming her own crippling stage-fright, and contributing to the destruction of the patriarchy.

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