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- Best anxiety app for meditation: Calm
- Best anxiety app for adult coloring: Colorfy
- Best for mood tracking: What’s Up? A Mental Health App
- Best anxiety app for sleep: Nature Sounds Relax and Sleep
- Best meditation app for People of Color: Shine
- Best anxiety app for breathing techniques: Breathwrk
- Best anxiety app game: AntiStress Anxiety Relief Game
- Best anxiety app for journaling: Moodnotes
- Best for cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): MindShift CBT
Anxiety is an extremely common but nonetheless very disruptive experience. Having anxiety can mean sleepless nights, missed opportunities, feeling sick, and panic attacks that can keep you from feeling like your full self.
Trying one of the apps for anxiety listed in this article can help you cope with and manage your symptoms. Having the tools to confront or embrace your anxious thoughts and feelings can be a great compliment to therapy with a professional. It can also provide a sense of empowerment between sessions.
Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. For many people, it can manifest in a number of ways, like:
- increased heart rate
- rapid breathing
- trouble concentrating
- difficulty falling asleep
You may feel anxious and nervous if you’re taking a test or starting a new job. However, anxiety can become extreme when it affects your day-to-day for an extended period of time.
If you have an anxiety disorder, you may feel fear, anxiety, panic, or worry at all or most times. Anxiety disorders may also prevent you from doing things you enjoy.
Some of the most common anxiety disorders are:
- Panic disorder. This is when you experience recurring panic attacks at unexpected times. A person with panic disorder may constantly fear the next panic attack.
- Phobia. A phobia is a fear of a specific object, activity, or circumstance.
- Social anxiety disorder. With this disorder, you may have an extreme fear of being judged by others in social situations.
- Separation anxiety disorder. This involves the fear of being away from home or loved ones.
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). You may worry uncontrollably about common occurrences and situations with GAD. It’s also known as chronic anxiety neurosis.
Anxiety disorders are the most common form of emotional disorder and can affect anyone at any age. If you have anxiety, you can get help from a mental health professional who can help you identify the routes of your anxiety and how to manage it.
We chose the best anxiety apps based on customer ratings. We also considered price, features, and what operating system the app is available on when creating this list.
- $ = under $9 per month
- $$ = $9–$13 per month
- $$$ = over $13 per month
A note on price
All of the apps mentioned in this article are free to download, but most require monthly or yearly subscriptions to use some or all of the in-app features.
Best anxiety app for meditation
- Who it’s best for: anyone who wants to add mindfulness to their day
- iPhone rating: 4.8 stars
- Android rating: 4.3 stars
- Price: $$$
Sleep is important for managing stress, but it’s also one of the first things to become an issue when you’re feeling anxious. Sleep, meditation, and relaxation are in your hands with Calm, a popular mindfulness app. These guided meditations are good for complete novices and seasoned practitioners, and you have your pick when it comes to how long you can dedicate to the app each day.
Calm offers a mood check-in feature that tracks your mood throughout the day and puts together a personalized report of your moods. In the free version, the app offers a limited amount of guided exercises and meditative audio to help relieve stress.
Calm also features nature sounds and sleep stories to help lull you into relaxed sleep, but a subscription is required to access these features. You can use their 7-day free trial to see if the subscription is worth it for you.
- amazing breathing techniques
- background sounds work in many situations (e.g. studying)
- regular new content
- inaccessible for visually-impaired users
- little diversity in narration
Best anxiety app for adult coloring
- Who it’s best for: people who find relaxation in being creative
- iPhone rating: 4.7 stars
- Android rating: 3.8 stars
- Price: $$
Colorfy is an adult coloring book brought into the digital realm. With a selection of images and mandalas to choose from, or the option to upload your own sketches to color, you can spend hours in a flow state or focused meditation through this app.
While Colorfy offers a majority of their images to color for free, you have to purchase a subscription in order to get access to the full library of images. However, Colorfy offers a 7-day free trial, so you can try it out before you buy the subscription.
- fun, calming way to pass time
- many awesome pictures to choose from
- lots of ways to customize & personalize pictures
- limited options in free trial
- android version missing menu functionality
Best for mood tracking
What’s Up? A Mental Health App
- Who it’s best for: people who want an easy way to track their thoughts and feelings
- iPhone rating: 4.4 stars
- Android rating: 3.9 stars
- Price: $
What’s Up? uses helpful techniques that stem from CBT and acceptance commitment therapy (ACT), two common approaches to manage intense feelings of anxiety, depression, and stress. This free app features a comprehensive diary that allows you to log daily moods and habits, along with a feelings tracker that asks you to rate your emotions on a scale from 1 to 10.
It also has a positive and negative habit tracker, where you can set goals to practice healthy habits like meditation, journaling, or exercising.
If you’re experiencing feelings of panic, What’s Up? also has a grounding game designed to help users return to the present when stress is taking over.
- a useful, no-fluff way to help with anxiety
- discreet & easy to use
- great strategies for breaking negative cycles
- open forums can be unproductive
- inaccessible to young children and visually-impaired users
Best anxiety app for sleep
Nature Sounds Relax and Sleep
- Who it’s best for: people who who have difficulty sleeping
- Android rating: 4.4 stars
- Price: $
Racing thoughts and ruminations are hallmarks of anxiety, but you can slow down, breathe deeply, and clear your thoughts with the gentle sounds and sights of nature in this app.
From thunder and rain to crackling fires and bird sounds, there’s something for everyone. Set the app timer to listen while you gently drift off to sleep, or set one of the tracks as your morning alarm so you can start your day with a soothing sound.
A 2019 review suggests that listening to nature sounds can help reduce stress, so this app may be an easy way to lower your anxiety.
Most features on this app are free. But with one-time purchases, you can gain access to more sounds.
- helps many people get a good night’s rest
- features a variety of tranquil, lovely sounds
- simple to use
- some users had technical glitches with updates
- timer only comes with premium plan
Best meditation app for People of Color
- Who it’s best for: people who are looking for a community
- iPhone rating: 4.7 stars
- Android rating: 4.6 stars
- Price: $$$
The way you experience and express anxiety can be different based on your cultural background. The Shine app was designed by Women of Color to address the anxieties that are specific to their communities. The app offers meditation practices, podcasts, a huge audio library, and community forums, so you can work on managing your anxiety alone or with the support of others who have a similar background.
Shine requires a subscription to use most of the features in the app, but it does give daily mood-boosting audio recordings and gratitude check-ins without a subscription. You’re also able to use a 7-day free trial before purchasing a subscription.
- intentionally and thoughtfully curated
- delivers a relevant, personal experience
- great for connecting with others in similar circumstances
- lacks meditations of various lengths
- can’t save readings
Best anxiety app for breathing techniques
- Who it’s best for: people who want to learn about breathing exercises
- iPhone rating: 4.8 stars
- Price: $
If you have anxiety, you’ve probably tried a breathing exercise or two to help calm yourself. The Breathwrk app takes the science of breathing exercises even further by curating a collection of breathing exercises based on your goal: falling asleep, feeling relaxed, feeling energized, or alleviating stress.
The app walks you through how to do each exercise and can send you daily reminders to remember to… well, breathe.
Most breathing exercises are completely free. But with a small monthly fee, you’re able to gain access to even more exercises and have unlimited access to track your breathing habits all month long. Breathwrk also has the most cost-friendly subscription on the list and offers a 7-day trial before you sign up for a subscription.
- fantastic breathing exercises
- ideal for all ages
- offers scholarships to offset cost of Pro plan
- glitchy/some breathwork doesn’t sync
- can be pricey (but scholarships are available)
Best anxiety app game
AntiStress Anxiety Relief Game
- Who it’s best for: people who fidget and love games
- iPhone rating: 4.5 stars
- Android rating: 4.1 stars
- Price: $
You know those fidget cubes with all the little tools and gadgets on them to keep you distracted? Imagine a whole app full of these little fun distractions: that’s the AntiStress app.
With mindless games like bubble wrap popping, fidget spinners, pen clicking, soap carving, and many more, this app is a great tool to help take your mind off what’s making you anxious. The best part? This app is completely free.
- variety of different games
- incredibly relaxing, no win-or-lose games
- makes it easy to spend quality time with yourself
- meditations are a bit misleading & closer to breathing exercises
- some graphics are lower quality
Best anxiety app for journaling
- Who it’s best for: people who want to learn techniques between therapy appointments
- iPhone rating: 4.7 stars
- Price: $$
Moodnotes lets you document your entire experience with anxiety in all of its forms. Built on CBT techniques and positive psychology, this app lets you understand and manage the entire experience of anxiety.
Moodnotes has a wide range of techniques to help you manage your anxiety. You can take a picture of your face to visualize your mood, write down your thoughts at the moment you begin feeling anxious, or read educational materials that help you get out of the cycle of “thinking traps.”
Moodnotes requires a subscription to use most of the features, but it does allow for a 7-day free trial.
- helps to easily detect patterns over time
- when used consistently, can help to change negative patterns
- ideal complement or alternative to therapy
- easy to avoid adding detail to moods, which is unhelpful
- user experience could be better
Best for cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Who it’s best for: people who feel like they’re stuck in negative thought patterns
- iPhone rating: 4.3 stars
- Price: $
CBT is a type of therapy that focuses on identifying negative thought patterns in an effort to recognize and reconstruct them. MindShift CBT is an app that supports users of CBT by providing daily mood check-ins, guided relaxation and mindfulness meditations, and tips for dealing with general worry, social anxiety, phobias, panic attacks, and more – all for free.
Should you choose to participate, there’s also a community board for people to interact with and support each other. The app has a 4.3-star rating from iPhone users who love MindShift’s tools, information, and interconnectivity.
- very informative & helpful in managing anxiety
- simple, user-friendly interface
- well thought out with space for goals and schedules
- lacks a social element
- could benefit from more mediums besides text
|Anxiety apps||Price||Available devices||What it’s best for||Customer rating|
|any range of meditation experience||– iPhone: 4.8 stars|
– Android: 4.3
|Colorfy||$$||– iPhone |
|creative types||– iPhone: 4.7 stars|
– Android: 3.8 stars
|What’s Up? A Mental Health App||$||– iPhone|
|people needing an easy way to track thoughts and feelings||– iPhone: 4.4 stars|
– Android: 3.8 stars
|Nature Sounds Relax and Sleep||$||Android||people who have difficulty sleeping||Android: 4.4 stars|
|people looking for shared community||– iPhone: 4.7 stars|
– Android: 4.6 stars
|Breathwrk||$||iPhone||people who have difficulty breathing easily||– iPhone: 4.8 stars|
|AntiStress Anxiety Relief Game||$||– iPhone|
|people who fidget and love games||– iPhone: 4.5 stars|
– Android: 4.1 stars
|Moodnotes||$$||iPhone||people who might benefit from virtual therapy||iPhone: 4.7 stars|
|MindShift CBT||$||iPhone||people stuck in negative thought patterns||iPhone: 4.3 stars|
When considering different mental health apps for anxiety, it can be tricky to know which is the best one to choose. The truth is that people will benefit from each app differently, so trial and error may be the best way to know what’s right for you. Most apps come with a free trial period or a free or low cost plan.
When shopping around, consider what you want out of the app experience, such as guided meditation, relaxation techniques, or an engaging, intuitive way to record thoughts and feelings. Doing this can help you determine which app suits you best.
Talk with a doctor if you’re experiencing symptoms like:
- ongoing irritability or sadness
- extreme mood swings
- social withdrawal
- sleeping or eating habit changes
- anxiety that prevents you from living your daily life
- anxiety or panic attacks
Remember, you’re not alone and mental health professionals are specially trained to help you. It’s also important to remember that using an app isn’t a substitute for seeing a mental health professional or taking medication.
How effective are apps for anxiety?
Depending on how often you use your apps of choice, they can be highly effective in helping to lower feelings of anxiety, stress, and panic. Many of these apps use evidence-based techniques of mindfulness and grounding. According to a 2012 review, these techniques have been found to calm the sympathetic nervous system, effectively reducing stress and creating a more relaxed body.
However, apps for anxiety don’t replace mental health professionals. They’re mainly designed to serve as a supplement to regular therapy appointments, or as distractions in moments of panic.
What are the benefits of apps for anxiety?
Apps for anxiety are:
- mostly free or low cost
- accessible if you have a smartphone
They can also help improve moods and provide healthy coping mechanisms.
Is there anyone who shouldn’t use apps for anxiety?
Anyone who is living with a serious mental health condition or addiction or feeling suicidal should, first and foremost, consult with their doctor or healthcare professional. In an emergency, contact a crisis hotline, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, or 911.
This is because mental health apps are not intended to diagnose a condition or take the place of a mental health professional.
A number of anxiety apps are on the market, and many of them aim to help ease anxiety in a number of different ways. With the many options available, choose the app that works best for you.
It’s also important to keep in mind that some of these apps may not work for you at all. If you find that an app isn’t successful for you, consider trying a different one.
It’s also important to note that none of the apps listed here are meant to replace sessions with a trained mental health professional.
If you find that you need more mental health support while using these apps, be sure to schedule an appointment with a trained professional.