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Android Apps for the Anxious Mind

(Photo credit: NYTimes.com)

If you're one of the millions who suffer from anxiety, perhaps you wouldn't expect your smartphone to be able to help you with your symptoms. But there's a growing number of apps that claim to be able to help folks with these problems, and they just might work.

According to the Economist, something called "cognitive-bias modification (CBM)" may be effective after only a few 15-minute sessions, and involve neither drugs nor the discussion of feelings. All it requires is using a program on your smartphone that "subtly alters harmful thought patterns."

One program for folks with social anxiety disorders shows images of faces, one with a neutral expression and one looking hostile. Users push a button to identify a letter that flashes on screen. The letter is meaningless but the point is to train the brain to snap the eyes away from the hostile face; or, ignore folks who you perceive as being hostile towards you. It's brain training for the socially-anxious mind.

While it would be wonderful if these apps being tested at University of Michigan or University of Western Australia really worked, as of yet there is no conclusive evidence that the apps work better than a placebo. Which sucks, because it's an awesome idea. Here's hoping the results of the next study are positive. 

Source: NYTimes


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