Can Mental Health Apps Help Reduce Symptoms of Anxiety & Depression?

In my last two articles I wrote a lot about the research into cell phone and smartphone addiction and the potential cognitive impact of your smartphone.

Those two articles looked more at the costs of our smartphone dependence yet there is no doubt that there are many positives and benefits in what our smartphones are capable of doing. One such potential benefit is the ability to download all sorts of apps for all sorts of things, from games to productivity to communication. In fact, some statistics suggest that right now in 2019 there are well over two million apps you can choose from. 

Apps can add to enjoyment and help us organise our lives and, naturally enough given the prevalence of issues, there are many, many apps that promise to help you improve your mental health. Yet aside from anecdotal suggestions and online reviews, it can be difficult to know how reliable any particular app actually is. Can you trust the content on your mental health apps? Are they based on solid science and evidence?

Recently (October 2019), a review was published assessing the inclusion of evidence based content on popular smartphone apps for depression and anxiety. So what did it say about these apps for depression and anxiety?

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Is Cell Phone Addiction a Thing? Smartphone Use, Sleep, Anxiety & Depression

Is there such a thing as cell phone addiction? Many people often describe themselves as being 'addicted' to their smartphone but is this an accurate description or just a way we have of describing how our mobile phones have become more and more integrated into our daily living?

My wife has said to me in the past that she thinks I'm addicted to my cell phone as I may have a quick check quite a few times, especially if there are some live football or rugby scores to be checked. Yet when she has that screen five inches from her face for a long period she's much more likely to consider that she is being practical by responding to work messages. And my eldest daughter is rarely more than one metre away from her smartphone (or 30 minutes away from her next Facetime) and can seemingly start to get a bit edgy if her battery starts falling much below 20%.

Are we all addicted or are we just all making use of technology in a way that suits us individually? As technology continues to develop, is any of it really a problem?  

The research seems to suggest that cell phone addiction is certainly a thing and that there are outcomes and consequences from how we utilise cell phones that can impact on our sleep, anxiety and depression levels, as well as our cognitive processing and task performance. 

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From Feeling Low To Feeling Good - Hypnotherapy Testimonial Video:

Sometimes when we are going through a difficult period or there has been some sort of change in life, it can be hard to think clearly and to access your usual ways of thinking, feeling and doing things.

You may find yourself overthinking about things, feeling emotional and struggling to mentally 'switch off'. It can impact on your sleep and eating. All your usual calmness, strength and confidence may seem like it has evaporated.

And whilst in the midst of that distress and lowness it may feel like things can and never will ever change and improve, the good news is that it is possible to find a way to deal and cope with things and move forward in your life. In fact, in the hypnotherapy testimonial below, one client describes how he went from feeling low following the end of his marriage, to now feeling good and being positive about the future.

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Dealing With Panic And Other Issues - Latest Hypnotherapy Testimonial:

It's always a pleasure to help someone move from anxiety and despair to feeling more positive and happier. Earlier this year Dave came to see me after a friend recommended me.

Dave lost his son in 2010 and, after he suffered a panic attack in the water during a triathlon he found that (in his words), his 'life was going downhill.' Through his sessions he has made massive progress in many areas of his life and is now in a much better place mentally. 

He's a great bloke (as well as being a fellow Showaddywaddy fan!!) and I'm massively grateful for the written and video testimonials that he has shared and which you can take a look at below. 

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Research Says Knowing This Will Reduce Your Public Speaking Anxiety:

Do you fear public speaking? For many people the fear of delivering a speech, talk or presentation in front of others ranks way up there on their list of anxiety provoking situations (some people even fear public speaking more than they fear death).

Many people experience significant anxiety when called upon to speak in public, and some of these people may even seek to avoid it altogether. 

And if anxiety, low self-esteem, low confidence or social anxiety are part of your life right now, then the prospect of any form of public speaking can send that anxiety and worry into overdrive. There can be fears about forgetting what you are going to say or freezing up in some way as well as fears about being judged or looking nervous in some way. You may worry that you will shake, sweat, go blank or show other signs of anxiety that your audience will pick up on. All of these can mean feeling anxious about looking anxious.

In the video below I cover a research backed way that can help you to reduce your public speaking anxiety and to improve your performance for both yourself and your audience.

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Can Other People Tell If You Are Feeling Anxious?

If you are feeling anxious or nervous then one of the things that can exacerbate how you feel is the worry that others will notice it. Having others point out that you look anxious or uncomfortable, or that you are sweating or a bit shaky, can send your anxiety up another level. 

You may worry that your anxious thoughts, feelings and sensations are apparent to others, which can make you feel even more anxious and mean that you think that your new, higher level of anxiety is then even more obvious to everyone else. 

However, whilst you may think that the anxiety inside of you is leaking out and noticeable by others, the research shows that people tend to overestimate the extent to which others can read how you feel.

In the video below I've covered the research that shows that we overestimate the extent to which our feelings and emotions are apparent to those around us.

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Do Others Judge You As Harshly As You Think When You Mess Up? Anxiety & Fear of Failure:

When we mess up, fail at something, do something embarrassing or blunder in some way, we are often certain in our minds that other people are judging us and thinking negatively of us. More than that, we assume they are judging us harshly and think we are an idiot or not good enough or a failure in some way.

In practice, even the thought that you might mess up, fail or do something embarrassing may be enough to even stop you attempting that that thing in the first place. You don't want to end up having people thinking badly of you so you don't take the risk.

But although you may worry about what other people will think about you if you mess up,  are they actually thinking in that way? Are other people really judging you that harshly if you make a mistake? 

I've written in earlier articles about our human tendency to overestimate how much attention other people are paying to our appearance and behaviours and about how we tend to believe that we stand out in the eyes of others more than we actually do (have a read of that previous article here: Why You Should Probably Worry Less About What Other People Think About You - The Research on Fear of Failure and Being Judged). As I write about there, the research shows that a great many of your fears about what others think and fear of failure may be misplaced or exaggerated. Other people are less likely to notice or remember your shortcomings than you typically expect.

Yet is that really also the case where we do something embarrassing or mess up in some way. Do people really judge us as harshly as we might think?

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Can Other People Tell How You Feel? Anxiety About Looking Anxious:

One thing that people with anxiety often worry about is that other people will be able to tell that they are anxious and nervous. Those emotions are so strong inside you that you presume they will spill out of you and be noticed by other people. 

That concern over other people seeing you are anxious can exacerbate your anxiety and make you feel even worse. You start to worry about looking anxious and worry about looking worried.

But is that belief actually true in reality? You may feel strong anxiety internally yet do other people notice this to the extent that you think they will? 

That's what this article is about today. Can other people tell how you feel? Do you really need to feel anxious about looking anxious? 

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Latest Video - Hypnotherapy Treatment For Anxiety - How Effective Is It?

In a recent article, I discussed the very latest research that has been recently published about the how effective hypnotherapy is as a treatment for anxiety issues. You can have a read of that article here if you haven't read it yet: The Effectiveness of Hypnotherapy as a Treatment for Anxiety.

The research looked into the overall effectiveness of hypnotherapy as a treatment for anxiety and found some pretty awesome evidence and results.

This particular scientific research is pretty important stuff, especially if you are someone currently struggling with anxiety and looking for an evidence based way to deal with it. As it's so important in adding to the knowledge based around treatment for anxiety, I also recorded a short video to talk about the findings.

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Ed Sheeran, Social Anxiety and Feeling Like A Zoo Animal:

In a recent interview with The Sun, Ed Sheeran, the singer, has revealed that he suffers from social anxiety that makes him feel like an 'animal in the zoo.' 

For all the upsides of being famous and wealthy, even that kind of lifestyle can't protect you from social anxiety and Sheeran talks of his constant battle with it. And whilst his lifestyle is a little different from mine (just a little!), I have every empathy with him having battled social anxiety myself from school age and all the way into my thirties. 

Ed Sheeran describes living with social anxiety and the attention that comes with people filming and staring at him as making him feel like a zoo animal. I'd have described my own social anxiety as feeling like 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' whereby in one situation I would be relaxed, comfortable and at ease and in another situation I would be frozen by fear, overthinking, anxiety and worry. 

Yet whether it's Ed Sheeran, the younger me or one of the many people who come to me for help to overcome it, social anxiety has many familiar patterns that lead to doubt, insecurity, lack of trust and fear.  The better news is that all of these anxious thoughts, feelings, beliefs, patterns and behaviours can all be tackled, amended and changed.

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