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We’ve found the best apps to help calm your anxious thoughts and feelings.

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Anxiety is on the rise in the United States.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, from August 2020 through February 2021, adults with symptoms of anxiety or depression increased from 36.4% to 41.5% in the United States.

Many adults reported how their pandemic-related anxiety caused other issues such as:

  • difficulty sleeping
  • difficulty eating
  • drinking more alcohol or using more substances
  • negatively impacting their overall health

Many of us might benefit from some help managing anxiety symptoms. And though apps can’t replace treatment from a mental health professional, they can help relieve the disorder’s effects. From tracking your mood to beginning a mindfulness practice or meditating, there’s an anxiety app out there for you.

Even if you don’t think these apps can help, we encourage you to try them. If you’re still on the fence, consider this: Researchers have found that even a single mindfulness or meditation session can slow your pulse and reduce your mild to moderate anxiety.

Something to keep in mind

While mental health apps may be beneficial for many people, they are not a substitute for face-to-face therapy if you’ve been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder that requires treatment. Still, apps can be helpful add-ons to treatment, medication, or both.

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health disorders. There are several types of anxiety disorders, including:

Each disorder is characterized by its causes and symptoms. But generally, symptoms of anxiety include:

  • nervousness
  • excessive worry
  • fear
  • sweatiness
  • fear of losing control
  • dizziness
  • avoidance

If you’d like to learn more about anxiety disorder, consider reading our in-depth article.

Anxiety apps work in many different ways to help reduce your anxiety symptoms.

Since relaxation training works to calm the mind, many apps include that aspect. The other way it works is by implementing cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness techniques to lower anxiety.

Some of the apps offer self-monitoring features where you can monitor your mood periodically by reporting your thoughts and behaviors to increase your level of emotional self-awareness (ESA). When you grow your ESA, you:

  • begin to identify your own emotions
  • understand when to expect them
  • work to prevent or cope with them

If you want to jump directly to the sections for each app, you can click the links below.

To find the right apps, we reviewed numerous contenders, looking at the following:

  • Ratings. We focused on apps with the highest overall ratings from thousands of users.
  • User reviews. We looked closely at what users thought about the app.
  • Operating system. All of the apps are available for Android and iOS.
  • Price. All apps on our list offer free options.
  • Vetting. All the apps were vetted to meet Psych Central’s medical, editorial, and business standards.

Best for meditation

Headspace

  • Price: free 14-day trial with an annual plan for $69.99; free 7-day trial at $12.99 monthly. Student and work plans are available.
  • Key features: meditations for every day, sleep, stress relief, and coping
  • Rating: 4.9 (App Store); 4.4 (Google Play)

Although Headspace was originally created for guided meditations, it now includes animations, articles, and videos to support your mental health. The app offers specific guided meditations for:

  • work
  • kids
  • sleep
  • focus
  • stress
  • anxiety

Headspace takes its app and seriously impacts the world (it has millions of users in more than 190 countries). Their commitment to providing users with scientifically based products includes their seven-person in-house science department and participation in dozens of research studies and numerous partnerships with research institutions.

For example, researchers claim doctors found the Headspace app helpful for anxiety and recommended it as a therapeutic option to help manage one’s symptoms.

Why we chose it as best for meditation

Headspace offers a meditation practice for almost every purpose, from quick relief breathing exercises to longer guided or unguided meditations. But it’s more than just a meditation app. It offers sleep aids, focus improvement, productivity builds, and centered fitness options that focus on total body health instead of only mental.

What we like

  • A variety of tools are available to help you manage your anxiety.
  • Meditations vary in length and type.
  • Editor’s Choice pick from Apple.

What to look out for

  • You’re charged at the end of your trial period automatically.
  • The subscription automatically renews unless you turn it off via smartphone.

If you’d like to learn more about Headspace, consider reading our in-depth review.

Best for sleep

Calm

  • Price: free for limited services, $14.99/month for premium content, $69.99/year.
  • Key features: mindful minute tracker, new content added daily, various mindfulness topics offered, and family plans available
  • Rating: 4.8 (App Store); 4.4 (Google Play)

Scientific evidence shows that sleep deprivation might increase symptoms of anxiety. So, if you’re experiencing stress and having trouble sleeping, using an app to improve the latter may also reduce anxiety symptoms.

Year after year, site after site, Calm rates continuously as one of the best apps for sleep. And evidence backs up its effectiveness in helping people sleep better at night and feel less tired during the day.

Why we chose it best for sleep

Besides the wide variety of story styles, from fairy tales to ASMR, Calm has worked with some of the world’s best-known voices. As a result, you can drift off to sleep listening to stories from various celebrities, including:

  • Harry Styles
  • Idris Elba
  • Mandy Moore
  • Ariana Grande

Plus, if you need a quick catnap to make it through the rest of your day, Calm also has nap sessions.

What we like

  • New sleep stories are added to the app regularly.
  • If you wake up in the middle of the night, you can use a “Gently Back to Sleep” story.
  • Got kids who can’t sleep? You can find sleep stories just for them.

What to look out for

  • The free version gives you access to only a few of the stories, so you might get tired of them quickly (pun intended).

If you’d like to learn more about Calm, consider reading our in-depth review.

Best for motivation

Fabulous — Daily Self Care

  • Price: free 1-week trial, $2.99/month, $35.99/year.
  • Key features: personal coach motivation, beginners guide to exercising, offers access to weight-loss programs
  • Rating: 4.6 (App Store); 4.4 (Google Play)

Lifestyle changes, such as getting more sleep or learning to meditate, can often help improve anxiety symptoms. For example, research from 2019 has shown that yoga and meditation might help reduce stress and anxiety.

But picking up a new, healthier habit can be challenging and that’s where Fabulous may be able to help.

If you pick a “journey” — maybe you want to establish a meditation habit, exercise more, or get to bed earlier — Fabulous will give you the daily steps to make your goal a reality. Its design is more than just annoying reminders that pop up on your phone. The app provides you with a daily coach to help you develop healthy habits and create rituals. In addition, you can participate in challenges against other members or yourself.

Why we chose it best for motivation

Fabulous coaches you daily on the app, helping you develop new habits that you can take with you throughout the rest of your days. In addition, it enables you to become self-sufficient by presenting challenges that point you toward your goals.

What we like

  • The daily coaching is inspirational.
  • Many users report that the app’s courses and challenges have created real changes in their lives.
  • You can select how much — or how little — work you’d like to do.

What to look out for

  • Reminder notifications stay on your screen only for a short time. So, if you don’t see it, it could disappear before you find the time to look at your phone.
  • Though user feedback for this app is positive, scientific data on its effectiveness is lacking. That’s the case for most goal- or motivation-oriented apps.

Best daily mood tracker

Reflectly

  • Price: free trial, $9.99/month, $29.99/1st year.
  • Key features: AI tech helps track and trend mood, daily journal, daily reflection
  • Rating: 4.6 (App Store); 4.3 (Google Play)

Mood tracking can help you notice patterns and triggers if you live with persistent anxiety. As you log how you’re feeling each day, Reflectly will ask you personalized questions to help deepen your reflections. In addition, you can return to previous pages in your journal at any time if you’d like to reread or edit an entry.

Research from 2021 indicates that using a journaling application like Reflectly can reduce anxiety symptoms while increasing awareness of your mood.

Why we chose it as the best daily mood tracker

Reflectly provides personalized motivations and prompts as well as challenges. In addition, you can use their daily, weekly, or monthly overviews and graphs to analyze your mood over time. And the app may even help you understand why you’ve felt so anxious lately.

What we like

  • Feelings on virtual paper each day can be an excellent way to work through anything troubling you.
  • You can choose from various moods and situations.
  • You can add voice notes and photos to your journal entries.

What to look out for

  • Free trial advertised but not offered once downloaded.
  • Research to back up the app’s effectiveness is lacking.

Best game-style app

Happify

  • Price: free limited content, flexible pricing plans offered, $11.67/month
  • Key features: activities and games, progress tracker, offers programs for grief and burnout in addition to anxiety
  • Average Rating: 4.5 (App Store); 3.5 (Google Play)

Happify aims to help users overcome stress, challenges, and negative thoughts through fun activities and games based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques.

During sign-up, you’re prompted with several questions to determine your goals. Then, the app will suggest a “track” with specific activities and games to help you achieve these goals based on your answers.

Some research from 2018 indicates that using Happify regularly may reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression while improving resilience.

Why we chose it as best game-style app.

The activities are based on evidence-based scientific research to help you overcome negative thoughts, life’s challenges, and stress. Furthermore, the app’s design is for everyday use to grow your positivity while having fun at the same time.

What we like

  • The games and activities can be a fun way to improve mental health.
  • The app offers accessibility features like online text to speech for the blind and visually impaired or the ability to disable animations.
  • You can keep your profile private or interact with others by choosing the community feature.
  • If you’re a Happify Plus member, you may be eligible to receive personalized support from a coach for an additional fee.

What to look out for

  • The free version offers only limited content.
  • User reviews report login challenges with the app.

Best for community support

Sanvello: Anxiety and Depression

  • Price: free limited content, the premium offered at $8.99/month or $53.99/year, premium plus personal mental health coaching offered at a higher price.
  • Key features: available through some health plans, great community, and live classes.
  • Average Rating: 4.8 (App Store); 4.6 (Google Play)

Anxiety can be isolating. While Sanvello provides goal tracking, exercises, coaching, and therapy, the app’s community of users is the real draw.

In its self-proclaimed “judgment-free, label-free space,” you can always find a fellow member willing to listen. Plus, you’ll often find a member who has experienced the same issue as you.

Users will give you words of understanding or encouragement, making you feel much less alone. Still, you may want to keep in mind that advice from other users isn’t always evidence-based or in line with medical recommendations. So, if you’re going to try a suggestion another user offers, it’s advisable to check in with your treatment team first to ensure it’s safe.

Why we chose it as best for community support

Millions of users interact anonymously on active discussion boards and chat groups over various topics related to anxiety. When you feel like you’re not alone with your anxiety, it can help you manage your symptoms better.

What we like

  • This app is advertised as a safe space free from bullying or negativity.
  • No matter the time of day or night, you can find someone to give you the encouragement you need to continue with your day or your night’s sleep.
  • The sessions can be more affordable than local providers if you need therapy, depending on where you live.

What to look out for

  • There are specific topics that are off-limits, such as suicide, and you might get blocked from posting if you mention them.
  • Community support doesn’t come from professionals.

Best free app

MindShift

  • Price: free
  • Key features: CBT tools, guided relaxation exercises, individualized coping plans
  • Average Rating: 4.3 (App Store); 4.1 (Google Play)

All the apps on this list are free to download, but this is the only app offering completely free services.

Using the tools of CBT, its user-friendly design allows you to learn and practice CBT each day. Strategies include:

The calming audio helps practice mindfulness and reframe your thoughts.

Why we chose it as best free app

MindShift is very user-friendly and aesthetically calming. Also, you don’t feel pressured to purchase a premium subscription while using it.

What we like

  • This app is truly free to use.
  • Tools offered are evidence-based and trusted.
  • The app offers a community forum to share stories and gain advice from peers.

What to look out for

  • There are specific topics that are off-limits, such as suicide, and you might get blocked from posting if you mention them.
  • Users report concerns with tracking data deleted after a certain amount of time.

Best symptom tracker

Bearable

  • Price: free for the basic version, $4.49/month, and $27.99/year for the premium version
  • Key features: all-in-one health tracker, fully customizable, track and trend symptoms and moods with user-friendly graphs and stats
  • Average Rating: 4.7 (App Store); 4.7 (Google Play)

With Bearable, you can record your physical and mental health symptoms quickly and effortlessly. In addition, you can customize what you track to fit your personal needs, such as:

  • sleep
  • diet
  • exercise
  • meditation

The tracking system then trends your data and spots patterns in your mood, symptoms, and factors using mediums like calendars and graphs.

Why we chose it as best symptom tracker app

Bearable makes daily journaling easy. The people who designed the app live with health issues and understand what it takes to manage chronic conditions successfully.

Also, the app can identify what behaviors negatively and positively impact your symptoms and mood. It also helps you understand the impact of medication and treatment.

What we like

  • Face ID unlocks are offered to keep your information safe.
  • The app connects the dots between your behaviors and corresponding mood and symptoms, helping you identify healthier habits.
  • You can set up reminders to keep you on track, take your medications, and other valuable health factors.

What to look out for

  • The basic app offers only comprehensive tracking; trending is available only with premium.
  • Users report concerns with tracking data deleted after a certain amount of time.

Best forFeaturesPlatformsPriceApp Store rating
Headspacemeditation• guided meditations
• videos
• sleep stories
• iPhone
• Android
• website
$12.99/monthly4.9
Calmsleep• guided meditations
• sleep stories
• ASMR
• iPhone
• Android
• website
$14.99/monthly4.8
Fabulousmotivation• guided meditations
• daily coaching
• ritual development
• iPhone
• Android
• website
$2.99/monthly4.6
Reflectlymood tracking• daily journaling
• mood tracker
• motivations
• iPhone
• Android
$9.99/monthly4.6
Happifygaming• games and activities
• text-to-speech
• community forum
• iPhone
• Android
• website
$11.67/monthly4.5
Sanvellocommunity support• available trhough some health plans
• goal tracking
• community forum
• iPhone
• Android
$8.99/monthly4.8
MindShiftfree support• cognitive behavioral therapy
• daily journaling
• community forum
• iPhone
• Android
• website
free4.3
Bearablesymptom tracker• health tracker
• symptom identification
• health reminders
• iPhone
• Android
$4.49/monthly4.7

If the apps in our roundup aren’t what you’re looking for, you don’t need to worry. Chances are there is an app that’s just right for you.

Here are some tips to make you an expert app hunter:

  • Ask Apple or Google which apps are the best. Both companies offer special sections like “New Apps We Love,” their recently reviewed apps based on your search inquiry.
  • Check out tech magazine websites. Review online tech magazines, such as PC Mag, and check out their app suggestions.
  • Take the time to read user reviews. Both Apple and Google Play allow you to read positive and negative reviews for their apps. If you find a negative review, look for the company’s response to the review. That can tell you a lot about the service they provide and help clear the air about unanswered questions.
  • Ask your doctor or health insurance provider for suggestions. Some mental health apps are offered free through your health insurance provider. You can also ask your doctor if they have any anxiety app recommendations.

Who should use anxiety apps?

Anxiety can negatively impact every aspect of your life. And while it would be ideal if everyone experiencing anxiety could seek appropriate care, this isn’t always possible or easy due to cost, location, or the stigma attached to mental illness.

Anxiety apps may serve as practical tools in assisting you in managing your anxiety symptoms, especially when in-person care is hard to come by.

Still, if you’ve been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and are receiving treatment, including medications, apps can’t replace your recommended treatment plan.

How effective are anxiety apps?

Although many apps base their platforms and activities on evidence-based techniques like CBT and meditation, none are proven effective. More research is needed to draw definitive conclusions about their impact on mental health long term.

Also, their effectiveness may depend on the person using it in terms of the type of anxiety they have, other forms of treatment, and overall state of health and mindset at the time of use.

What can I do if I have an anxiety attack?

Some people use the terms “panic attack” and “anxiety attack” interchangeably, while others see subtle differences.

Panic attacks are sudden waves of discomfort, fear, or a sense of losing control that often appears without a clear trigger or danger. Anxiety attacks tend to have a trigger and they’re not as clearly defined nor officially recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5).

Still, the same techniques tend to bring relief for both anxiety and panic attacks.

When you start to feel a panic or anxiety attack, you could try deep breathing and meditation to slow your mind. Many of the apps in this roundup can help you focus your mind away from fear or trigger to instead concentrate on how to correct your mindset and calming your anxiety symptoms.

There may also be some useful apps to help you manage your symptoms at the moment of the attack.

If you’d like to learn more about how to stop anxiety right here, right now, consider reading our in-depth article.

Can anxiety apps treat anxiety over time?

Apps aren’t intended to treat anxiety disorders, but they may work in addition to treatment with therapy or medication.

It’s best to speak with your treatment team about adding apps as a tool to your treatment plan.

Are there free anxiety apps?

There are a few free apps for anxiety. However, many apps are free to download, with limited services offered at no cost. Also, in-app purchases may be an option to maximize the possible benefits each app has to offer.

Consider reading our in-depth article if you’d like to learn more about free mental health apps.

If you live with anxiety, you know that it can occur at any time. Though working with a trained mental health professional is a great way to manage your symptoms, you might benefit from help between sessions.

Apps can be one way to help you through those tough moments. Whether you’re looking for specific, anxiety-related support or you just need a distraction from what’s on your mind, there’s an app out there for you.