Technological advances in managing anxiety and stress
Dr Alister Baird
26 Feb 2023
The underlying emotion of stress and anxiety is typically fear. Our brains and bodies are programmed to react to events in a way that protects us and ensure our survival. Typically, this manifests in three behaviours; fight, flight, or freeze. When we perceive something as threatening, we will tend to react in one of these three ways. As our lives have become more complex and advanced, these perceived threats no longer have to be physically dangerous (like spotting a tiger or a snake in the wild for example) they can be things in our modern world we perceive as frightening; public speaking, walking home in the dark, and going on an aeroplane are all modern examples of this. The problem is, our brains and bodies can’t tell the difference between these perceived threats, we have entrenched methods of dealing with these stressful situations that have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years, and they can be powerful and overwhelming.
Just as there are new ways of becoming stressed and anxious, there are also new ways that we can overcome our anxieties. Whilst previously patients would need to see mental health professionals face-to-face to get help with their worries, technological advances have meant that new methods and tools have been developed that can help people overcome these difficulties. Recent research (Chandrashekar, 2018) has shown that mental health smartphone apps can significantly reduce people’s feelings of anxiety and worries. These apps allow people to access support from anywhere, at any time, as well reducing the time and financial costs of accessing mental health services (Marshall et al., 2020). Additionally, some people find it difficult to seek out mental health support due to cultural stigma surrounding needing this help, mental apps can provide the anonymity and ease of access that may appeal to people who would otherwise not access any support. This is not to say these apps can replace traditional talking therapies, but we believe at Bloomfield Health that they can be a powerful complementary tool to more traditional therapies and that they can be a novel method of helping our patients in the future.
1. Chandrashekar, P. (2018). Do mental health mobile apps work: evidence and recommendations for designing high-efficacy mental health mobile apps. Mhealth, 4.
2. Marshall, J. M., Dunstan, D. A., & Bartik, W. (2020). Clinical or gimmickal: The use and effectiveness of mobile mental health apps for treating anxiety and depression. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 54(1), 20-28.