Few things are more stressful than a global pandemic—and, of course, life’s other problems don’t take a vacation in the meantime. But despite rising levels of anxiety (47% of Americans reported feeling anxious as of January 2021), treatments like therapy and medication remain expensive and inaccessible for many.
The solution may be your smartphone/laptop. While our digital devices are a source of anxiety for many of us, they can also give us access to resources like telehealth and wellness apps. Plenty of free and low-cost apps provide evidence-based treatments for anxiety, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, that can help us feel less overwhelmed.
If you are experiencing severe or debilitating anxiety, you should talk to your doctor or a mental healthcare provider. But for those of us experiencing mildly elevated anxiety levels due to the pandemic, self-help apps like these can work wonders—without an expensive trip to the doctor’s office.
Woebot is a chatbot that combines artificial intelligence (AI) with the principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to guide you through managing distressing emotions like anxiety. The app prompts you to log your mood daily, then offers tools, skills, and strategies optimized to help. You can also view psychoeducational materials and chart your mood over time to monitor your progress.
Like Woebot, Wysa is a self-help app powered by AI. The app coaches users through anxiety, depression, sleep problems, LGBTQ+ issues, and more. You can work through your emotions by chatting with Wysa (who takes the form of an adorable penguin) or completing self-care activities suggested by the app. Based on your answers to Wysa, the app recommends self-help strategies like breathing exercises, cognitive reframing, and more.
Sanvello is an app for managing anxiety and depression using the principles of CBT. While designed to work in conjunction with therapy, the app also offers self-help strategies, such as guided meditations and mood tracking, to support any user’s self-help journey. The app tracks your progress over time using a questionnaire to evaluate stress, anxiety, and depression. Unlike other self-help apps on this list, it also has a social feature. You can join a community message board for peer support.
Sayana is another AI chatbot that focuses on mood tracking and self-care. The app encourages users to log their moods and list things they are grateful for (a practice proven to make you happier). Depending upon your mood, Sayana offers psychoeducation and suggests possible coping skills you can use to feel better. The app saves lessons for future reference, so you can track your progress and access helpful resources.
For users seeking professional help for their anxiety, Talkspace offers a free consultation before pairing you with a licensed therapist. The app’s therapists specialize in concerns ranging from anxiety to depression to LGBTQ+ issues. The app prides itself on affordability and partners with a limited number of insurance companies. Based on the subscription you choose, you can send your therapist unlimited messages, schedule phone calls, or hold video sessions. Talkspace also offers psychiatry services for those who need prescription anxiety medication.