Welcome to the Health Game. Joining me is Mark Grant, a psychologist with over 20 years’ experience in the treatment of stress, trauma and anxiety. He’s just released a fantastic new app on iTunes that gives anxiety sufferers relief within minutes. It represents how the digital age is progressing treatment for anxiety. Mark, what is the normal treatment for this condition and how is technology changing that?
The normal treatment for anxiety is either medication or counselling, or a combination of both. Medication has some negative consequences, such as side effects, people just don’t like taking it really. And traditionally psychotherapy has been a very long, hard road as people learn to change the patterns of thinking; they’ve got to practice relaxation exercises, doing thought exercises. Really, unless they keep doing those things fairly long-term the anxiety just comes back. So with the digital age we’re able to deliver new kinds of treatment in new kinds of ways.
And one of those ways is the app that you have developed. How is that implemented and why is that so important for anxiety sufferers?
The app enables us to deliver sensory information to the brain, rather than just cognitive information or relaxation exercises. And when the brain is stimulated visually and auditory, as it does with the app, it can’t stay tuned in to the anxious thoughts and feelings. So literally the app is flooding the brain with stimulation that turns off the thoughts and feelings that maintain anxiety and it’s doing it through the part of the brain that receives sensory input, which is the part of the brain that’s most connected to anxiety.
And for people that suffer from anxiety, how crucial is it for them to be able to get relief on the spot from their condition?
It’s absolutely essentially because if someone’s got to attend a social gathering or a job interview or do an exam or go on a trip and their anxiety is preventing them from doing that, they need something that they can do there in the moment that will help them to tone down their anxiety and perform whatever tasks or challenges they’ve got to do. The moment that anxiety takes over they’ve lost that opportunity and their life is being held up.
Now, the app is called Anxiety Release. Just briefly, how does it work?
When people are feeling anxious they activate the app and the app will deliver sensory information to their brain in an auditory and a visual way, which only an app can do, that floods their brain with input and essentially pushes out the anxious thoughts and feelings that were there before.
And what situations do you see this coming into play for people with anxiety?
The app can be used in any everyday situation, including fear of exams, fear of public speaking, fear of crowded public spaces, fear of going on an airplane; literally any anxiety-provoking situation. So to give you an example, one of the women I’m testing the app with was looking for a way to help calm her anxiety at home without the necessity of booking an appointment with her therapist so often. She found that by listening to the app every day she began to feel more in control of her anxiety and less anxious and more able to cope with the demands of her life.
Great to chat Mark, thanks for your time. And to purchase the app just go to the iTunes store and search for “Anxiety Release” or you can check out Mark’s website which is full of great information, the address www.AnxietyRelease.com.au.
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