man with anxiety

Chances are, you or someone you know suffers with anxiety. Whether it’s a mild feeling of apprehension and unease before a completely routine event, or a full-blown panic attack — anxiety can disrupt your daily life.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common kind of mental illness. They include post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, general anxiety, social anxiety, panic disorder, and even forms of depression. They affect 18 percent of the U.S. adult population. Still, only one-third of those affected seek help.

For people who have sought professional treatment for their anxiety, as well as those who prefer to keep it private, our picks for the best anxiety apps of 2016 may be able to provide additional support.

Acupressure: Heal Yourself

iPhone rating:
3 stars $1.99
Android rating:
4 stars $1.99

Acupressure involves focusing therapy on certain points of the body to relieve physical and mental symptoms of stress. Unlike acupuncture, there are no needles involved, just massage. Acupressure: Heal Yourself guides you to the various pressure points that you can self-massage to get the relief you need from your anxiety, as well as from pain, addiction, and other common disorders. Using illustrations, the app shows you exactly what points are best for your symptoms, and how to massage them for the best results possible.

Anxiety Free

iPhone rating:
4.5 stars Free

High stress levels can worsen the symptoms of anxiety – that’s why stress management techniques like meditation are often recommended for people with anxiety. The Anxiety Free app uses self-hypnosis techniques to help lessen stress and quell feelings of anxiousness. The guided lessons developed by Donald Mackinnon are each 90 minutes long.

Free Relaxing Sounds of Nature

iPhone rating:
4.5 stars Free

Relaxing sounds have a way of helping us tune out the stress of the day. And when you suffer from anxiety and panic, the need for such relaxation is even more pressing. The Free Relaxing Sounds of Nature app features 25 soothing nature sounds, plus another 35 sounds that you can use to craft your own relaxation soundtrack. Use it as an alarm or to help you drift off at the end of the day. You can also use it whenever you feel your stress and anxiety levels rising.

Headspace

iPhone rating:
4.5 stars Free
Android rating:
4.5 stars Free

This “gym membership for your mind” features meditation and mindfulness techniques to help manage stress and anxiety, improve well-being, and become happier overall. The series of guided meditations is designed to train your brain in just 10 minutes a day, with the ability to track and reward yourself for progress, along with a buddy system so that you can stay motivated and help others do the same.

HelloMind

iPhone rating:
4.5 stars Free

When you suffer from anxiety, you can feel tied down by your constant thoughts of worry and dread. HelloMind attempts to help users loosen these constraints. It does this with guided relaxation audios. The guided exercises focus on anxiety, fears and phobias, and confidence, among other things. You can even earn points for listening, and journal your feelings in a log.

Inner Balance

iPhone rating:
3.5 stars Free

This app is designed to accompany the Inner Balance Sensor, which hooks to your earlobe and your iOS device. Then, the app monitors your heart rhythms and encourages you to control your physical response to stress and anxiety. By learning how to manage your heart rhythms, the makers of Inner Balance say you can reduce fatigue, improve concentration and focus, and quickly find calmness in the midst of stressful situations.

Moods

iPhone rating:
3 stars Free

Learning how to manage anxiety first requires you to know how to recognize it. With this mood tracking app, simply enter how you’re feeling at any time of day, and use these inputs to track and identify patterns. We like the uncluttered simplicity of this app. It’s a stripped down winner for mood tracking and nothing else.

Nature Sounds Relax and Sleep

Android rating:
4.5 stars Free

When you suffer from anxiety, relaxation can be difficult. When you can’t relax, your anxiety can worsen, creating a vicious cycle. The Nature Sounds Relax and Sleep app was made to help lull you into a calm, soothed state. The different options include waterfall, night in the jungle, bird sounds, and thunder. You can also use the app as an alarm.

Relax and Rest Meditations

iPhone rating:
4 stars $1.99
Android rating:
4.5 stars $1.99

Slowing down can seem impossible, especially when you regularly operate under the pressure of anxiety. What we like about the Relax and Rest Medications app is the brevity of the featured meditations — meaning lack of time is no excuse. Whenever you have a few minutes to spare, slow down and relax with a five, 13, or 24-minute guided meditation. 

Self-Help for Anxiety Management

iPhone rating:
4.5 stars Free
Android rating:
4 stars Free

Learning how to relax can help you manage anxiety symptoms, but it’s far from a cure-all. We like the Self-Help for Anxiety Management app because it takes more of a holistic view of anxiety treatment. In it, you’ll find an anxiety tracking tool, relaxation instruction, anxiety treatment guidance, and a community to interact with. There are also interactive relaxation features you can use to learn how to better manage your emotions and physical reactions to them.

Sleep Time

iPhone rating:
5 stars Free
Android rating:
4 stars Free

A good night’s sleep can mean the difference between having a good day or a bad day. This is especially true for people who suffer from anxiety disorders. Sleep Time lets you fall asleep to ambient, relaxing sounds and wake to the same. It also tracks your sleep patterns and provides feedback on the quality and quantity of shut-eye you’re getting. Because your quality of sleep is also influenced by things you do when you’re awake, the app features a premium upgrade including a workout plan.

Stop Panic & Anxiety Self Help

Android rating:
4.5 stars Free

Made specifically for people suffering from panic disorders, Stop Panic & Anxiety Self Help has several features for folks who regularly face panic and anxiety attacks. The app uses cognitive behavioral therapy approaches to help users reframe their destructive thought patterns that may lead to or worsen their anxiety. It also features relaxation audios, an anxiety diary, and emotional training tools.

What’s Up?

iPhone rating:
5 stars Free
Android rating:
4.5 stars Free

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) involves learning more about how you think and how your thoughts affect your emotions. In anxiety management, it can mean the difference between having a panic attack and rationally approaching your fear and worry with a clear head. This app uses CBT to train anxiety sufferers how to identify negative thinking patterns and the sources of their anxiety. It features breathing techniques, habit and anxiety trackers, positive quotes, forums, and even a game.

The Worry Box

Android rating:
4 stars Free

Anxiety and worry are built on fear of the unknown, of worrisome possibilities, and both are difficult to manage. The Worry Box was designed to help people cope with worry and learn how to effectively manage the disruptive emotion. When you’re facing worry, the app gives you a list of coping statements to help reframe your thoughts. It also includes relaxation audios to help induce calmness.

Worry Watch

iPhone rating:
4.5 stars $1.99

Have you ever worried about a potential future scenario that never came to fruition? If you suffer from anxiety, the answer is probably yes. Worry Watch is an app that aims to help you manage worry and anxiety by delving into the thought processes that lead us down this path of unjustified stress. It features a logbook for you to track your worries, including what you thought might happen and how the situation actually turned out. As you add to your app, you can monitor trends and learn from your patterns of worry and anxiety.