By Yael Brender
A new science-based app can help reduce your anxiety levels in 25 minutes through your phone. The app, called Personal Zen, is particularly targeted towards people with a high level of anxiety.
According to new research published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science, scientifically researched and supported apps are a whole new way to measure mental health problems and offer a personal solution.
Clinical psychologist Dr Tracy Dennis from Hunter College at the City University of New York, says that apps like these will help close the gap between need and ease of access to mental health services.
It’s a new way to deliver treatment that is “affordable, engaging and accessible”. Dr Dennis says there are literally millions of people suffering from psychological stress who don’t seek or receive mental health services – due to the cost, difficultly of access and fear of the stigma.
Personal Zen has been designed to be fun, too – it’s a game, not just therapy. It uses a cognitive approach to treating anxiety, called Attention-Bias Modification Training (ABMT).
The app is designed to train patients to ignore a threat and instead focus on a non-threatening stimulus; for example ignoring an angry face and focusing instead on a happy face. A study of 78 participants playing the ABTM-based app showed reduced anxiety symptoms during a stressful event.
So far, the app has only been tested on people who scored highly on anxiety surveys, but researchers believe it’s the basis for developing apps for all mental health conditions. It’s recommended you play the game for 25 minutes, which research has shown is enough time to positively change nervous behaviour.
However, if you’re short on time “Early indications suggest that using it around ten minutes a day several times a week is a good ‘dosage’. You can also use it right before a stressful event to take stress down a notch.” Dr Dennis says.
Currently, you can download the app, Personal Zen for free in the App Store for iOS (Apple) only.
By BB Intern Yael Brender
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