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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Smartphone Addiction: The Impact Of Your Phone On Your Focus, Attention and Performance:

In my last article I wrote about the existence of cell phone addiction and smartphone addiction and about how their use can be problem that is tightly linked to technological developments which can impact on your daily life (have a read of that one here: Is Cell Phone Addiction a Thing? Smartphone Use, Sleep, Anxiety & Depression).

These can include problems such as their use in dangerous situations or prohibited contexts, a loss of interest in other activities, repeated interruptions, periods of insomnia and sleep disturbance, and feelings of irritability, anxiety and loneliness if you are separated from your phone or unable to immediately send or receive messages. And I didn't even mention other related problems such as online bullying and abuse, hackers and fraudsters.

I also covered a study that found that depression and anxiety scores were higher in a high smartphone use group than in a low smartphone use group. Those researchers concluded that depression, anxiety and sleep quality may be associated with smartphone overuse and that such overuse may lead to depression and/or anxiety, which can in turn result in sleep problems.

And yes our cell phones and smartphones have lots of cool stuff that makes life easier, give us information at our fingertips and mean we can communicate with others wherever and whenever we like. It isn't all doom and gloom! Yet how we use our smartphones and mobiles can impact on us and we may be blissfully unaware it is happening or even be in denial, such is our reliance upon these devices.

In this article I'm moving on to look at the impact your cell phone / smartphone can have on your thinking, focus, attention and performance in ways you may not have even yet considered.

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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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Fear of Flying - How Safe Are You Up In The Air?

Recently I ran another great Fear of Flying course with the awesome Serena at Sim2Do Flight Simulator Centre in Mildenhall.

On this particular fear of flying course there were a lot of questions about how safe flying actually is. Sure, we are all told that flying is the safest form of transport and so any fears around flying aren't really rational or logical, yet what are those things in place that mean flying is so safe?

After all, isn't it just a piece of metal somehow moving through the nothingness of air at the control of some pilot or other in the cockpit??!!

And haven't we all read the news stories of plane accidents and crashes. If flying is so safe, how come these scary stories seem to keep popping up in news feeds?

Research estimates that anywhere up to 40% of people experience a fear of flying, the experience of an unreasonable amount of anxiety regarding flying and causing it to be avoided or endured with intense anxiety. 

On our fear of flying course, we not only include hypnosis and coping mechanisms to reduce anxiety and put you more in control of your thoughts and feelings around the flying process, we also cover anything and everything to do with air safety, how planes work and what exactly goes on behind the scenes to keep you safe.

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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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A Boost Of Happiness - How Sharing Positive Experiences Affects Your Happiness:

The joy of happiness! Who doesn't like being happy, right? In my office, one of the most desired end goals is for someone to feel happier at the end of their hypnotherapy sessions. That may means overcoming anxiety and panic, increasing confidence and self-esteem or any other host of aims and issues, yet within this and as part of this is the desire to feel happier in ourselves and in our lives.

I've written before about the benefits of gratitude for boosting your happiness and self esteem and potentially protecting you from anxiety and depression. Noticing and appreciating the good stuff in your life really can make you happier (perhaps not the shock of the century is it?!). Research really does demonstrate that people who deliberately notice and appreciate positive aspects in their life and their world tend to be happier, more optimistic, have positive self-esteem and are more positive in general.

All great stuff, yet can we derive even more positive feelings, happiness and even life satisfaction from our positive experiences? Could sharing our positive experiences with others give us a boost of positive feelings and emotions? Can we get a boost of happiness by telling others about the positive events in our lives?

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Hypnotherapy For Self-Confidence - Latest Good Zing Article:

Whatever your current levels of confidence, there is always room for improvement in at least some areas of your life. Confidence is one of those things that no matter how much we have of it, we know that there is the ability to grow further and to feel better in ourselves. 

Recently I was asked by the great guys at Good Zing, who provide trusted health information through their resources, to write a piece on how hypnotherapy can help you to increase your self-confidence. I'm delighted to say that this has now been published on their site and you can have a read using the link below.

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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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