Anxiety is an extremely common but nonetheless very disruptive experience. Having anxiety can mean sleepless nights, missed opportunities, feeling sick, and panic attacks that can keep you from feeling like your full self.
Trying one of the apps for anxiety listed in this article can help you cope with and manage your symptoms. Having the tools to confront or embrace your anxious thoughts and feelings can be a great compliment to therapy with a professional. It can also provide a sense of empowerment between sessions.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. For many people, it can manifest in a number of ways, like:
increased heart rate
difficulty falling asleep
You may feel anxious and nervous if you’re taking a test or starting a new job. However, anxiety can become extreme when it affects your day-to-day for an extended period of time.
If you have an anxiety disorder, you may feel fear, anxiety, panic, or worry at all or most times. Anxiety disorders may also prevent you from doing things you enjoy.
Some of the most common anxiety disorders are:
Panic disorder. This is when you experience recurring panic attacks at unexpected times. A person with panic disorder may constantly fear the next panic attack.
Phobia. A phobia is a fear of a specific object, activity, or circumstance.
Social anxiety disorder. With this disorder, you may have an extreme fear of being judged by others in social situations.
Separation anxiety disorder. This involves the fear of being away from home or loved ones.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). You may worry uncontrollably about common occurrences and situations with GAD. It’s also known as chronic anxiety neurosis.
Anxiety disorders are the most common form of emotional disorder and can affect anyone at any age. If you have anxiety, you can get help from a mental health professional who can help you identify the routes of your anxiety and how to manage it.
How we chose the best apps for anxiety
We chose the best anxiety apps based on customer ratings. We also considered price, features, and what operating system the app is available on when creating this list.
$ = under $9 per month
$$ = $9–$13 per month
$$$ = over $13 per month
A note on price
All of the apps mentioned in this article are free to download, but most require monthly or yearly subscriptions to use some or all of the in-app features.
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Healthline’s picks for the best apps for anxiety
Best anxiety app for meditation
Who it’s best for: anyone who wants to add mindfulness to their day
iPhone rating: 4.8 stars
Android rating: 4.3 stars
Sleep is important for managing stress, but it’s also one of the first things to become an issue when you’re feeling anxious. Sleep, meditation, and relaxation are in your hands with Calm, a popular mindfulness app. These guided meditations are good for complete novices and seasoned practitioners, and you have your pick when it comes to how long you can dedicate to the app each day.
Calm offers a mood check-in feature that tracks your mood throughout the day and puts together a personalized report of your moods. In the free version, the app offers a limited amount of guided exercises and meditative audio to help relieve stress.
Calm also features nature sounds and sleep stories to help lull you into relaxed sleep, but a subscription is required to access these features. You can use their 7-day free trial to see if the subscription is worth it for you.
amazing breathing techniques
background sounds work in many situations (e.g. studying)
regular new content
inaccessible for visually-impaired users
little diversity in narration
Best anxiety app for adult coloring
Who it’s best for: people who find relaxation in being creative
iPhone rating: 4.7 stars
Android rating: 3.8 stars
Colorfy is an adult coloring book brought into the digital realm. With a selection of images and mandalas to choose from, or the option to upload your own sketches to color, you can spend hours in a flow state or focused meditation through this app.
A 2020 studyTrusted Source showed that adult coloring helped lower anxiety levels in participants, so pouring your attention into the beautiful designs may help distract from your anxious thoughts and provide some calm.
While Colorfy offers a majority of their images to color for free, you have to purchase a subscription in order to get access to the full library of images. However, Colorfy offers a 7-day free trial, so you can try it out before you buy the subscription.
fun, calming way to pass time
many awesome pictures to choose from
lots of ways to customize & personalize pictures
limited options in free trial
android version missing menu functionality
Best for mood tracking
What’s Up? A Mental Health App
Who it’s best for: people who want an easy way to track their thoughts and feelings
iPhone rating: 4.4 stars
Android rating: 3.9 stars
What’s Up? uses helpful techniques that stem from CBT and acceptance commitment therapy (ACT), two common approaches to manage intense feelings of anxiety, depression, and stress. This free app features a comprehensive diary that allows you to log daily moods and habits, along with a feelings tracker that asks you to rate your emotions on a scale from 1 to 10.
It also has a positive and negative habit tracker, where you can set goals to practice healthy habits like meditation, journaling, or exercising.
If you’re experiencing feelings of panic, What’s Up? also has a grounding game designed to help users return to the present when stress is taking over.
a useful, no-fluff way to help with anxiety
discreet & easy to use
great strategies for breaking negative cycles
open forums can be unproductive
inaccessible to young children and visually-impaired users
Best anxiety app for sleep
Nature Sounds Relax and Sleep
Who it’s best for: people who who have difficulty sleeping
Android rating: 4.4 stars
Racing thoughts and ruminations are hallmarks of anxiety, but you can slow down, breathe deeply, and clear your thoughts with the gentle sounds and sights of nature in this app.
From thunder and rain to crackling fires and bird sounds, there’s something for everyone. Set the app timer to listen while you gently drift off to sleep, or set one of the tracks as your morning alarm so you can start your day with a soothing sound.
A 2019 review suggests that listening to nature sounds can help reduce stress, so this app may be an easy way to lower your anxiety.
Most features on this app are free. But with one-time purchases, you can gain access to more sounds.
helps many people get a good night’s rest
features a variety of tranquil, lovely sounds
simple to use
some users had technical glitches with updates
timer only comes with premium plan
Best meditation app for People of Color
Who it’s best for: people who are looking for a community
iPhone rating: 4.7 stars
Android rating: 4.6 stars
The way you experience and express anxiety can be different based on your cultural background. The Shine app was designed by Women of Color to address the anxieties that are specific to their communities. The app offers meditation practices, podcasts, a huge audio library, and community forums, so you can work on managing your anxiety alone or with the support of others who have a similar background.
Shine requires a subscription to use most of the features in the app, but it does give daily mood-boosting audio recordings and gratitude check-ins without a subscription. You’re also able to use a 7-day free trial before purchasing a subscription.
intentionally and thoughtfully curated
delivers a relevant, personal experience
great for connecting with others in similar circumstances
lacks meditations of various lengths
can’t save readings
Best anxiety app for breathing techniques
Who it’s best for: people who want to learn about breathing exercises
iPhone rating: 4.8 stars
If you have anxiety, you’ve probably tried a breathing exercise or two to help calm yourself. The Breathwrk app takes the science of breathing exercises even further by curating a collection of breathing exercises based on your goal: falling asleep, feeling relaxed, feeling energized, or alleviating stress.
The app walks you through how to do each exercise and can send you daily reminders to remember to… well, breathe.
Most breathing exercises are completely free. But with a small monthly fee, you’re able to gain access to even more exercises and have unlimited access to track your breathing habits all month long. Breathwrk also has the most cost-friendly subscription on the list and offers a 7-day trial before you sign up for a subscription.
fantastic breathing exercises
ideal for all ages
offers scholarships to offset cost of Pro plan
glitchy/some breathwork doesn’t sync
can be pricey (but scholarships are available)
Best anxiety app game
AntiStress Anxiety Relief Game
Who it’s best for: people who fidget and love games
iPhone rating: 4.5 stars
Android rating: 4.1 stars
You know those fidget cubes with all the little tools and gadgets on them to keep you distracted? Imagine a whole app full of these little fun distractions: that’s the AntiStress app.
With mindless games like bubble wrap popping, fidget spinners, pen clicking, soap carving, and many more, this app is a great tool to help take your mind off what’s making you anxious. The best part? This app is completely free.
variety of different games
incredibly relaxing, no win-or-lose games
makes it easy to spend quality time with yourself
meditations are a bit misleading & closer to breathing exercises
some graphics are lower quality
Best anxiety app for journaling
Who it’s best for: people who want to learn techniques between therapy appointments
iPhone rating: 4.7 stars
Moodnotes lets you document your entire experience with anxiety in all of its forms. Built on CBT techniques and positive psychology, this app lets you understand and manage the entire experience of anxiety.
Moodnotes has a wide range of techniques to help you manage your anxiety. You can take a picture of your face to visualize your mood, write down your thoughts at the moment you begin feeling anxious, or read educational materials that help you get out of the cycle of “thinking traps.”
Moodnotes requires a subscription to use most of the features, but it does allow for a 7-day free trial.
helps to easily detect patterns over time
when used consistently, can help to change negative patterns
ideal complement or alternative to therapy
easy to avoid adding detail to moods, which is unhelpful
user experience could be better
Best for cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
Who it’s best for: people who feel like they’re stuck in negative thought patterns
iPhone rating: 4.3 stars
CBT is a type of therapy that focuses on identifying negative thought patterns in an effort to recognize and reconstruct them. MindShift CBT is an app that supports users of CBT by providing daily mood check-ins, guided relaxation and mindfulness meditations, and tips for dealing with general worry, social anxiety, phobias, panic attacks, and more – all for free.
Should you choose to participate, there’s also a community board for people to interact with and support each other. The app has a 4.3-star rating from iPhone users who love MindShift’s tools, information, and interconnectivity.
very informative & helpful in managing anxiety
simple, user-friendly interface
well thought out with space for goals and schedules
lacks a social element
could benefit from more mediums besides text
A comparison of the best anxiety apps
How to choose
When considering different mental health apps for anxiety, it can be tricky to know which is the best one to choose. The truth is that people will benefit from each app differently, so trial and error may be the best way to know what’s right for you. Most apps come with a free trial period or a free or low cost plan.
When shopping around, consider what you want out of the app experience, such as guided meditation, relaxation techniques, or an engaging, intuitive way to record thoughts and feelings. Doing this can help you determine which app suits you best.
When to talk with a doctor
Talk with a doctor if you’re experiencing symptoms like:
ongoing irritability or sadness
extreme mood swings
sleeping or eating habit changes
anxiety that prevents you from living your daily life
anxiety or panic attacks
Remember, you’re not alone and mental health professionals are specially trained to help you. It’s also important to remember that using an app isn’t a substitute for seeing a mental health professional or taking medication.
Frequently asked questions
How effective are apps for anxiety?
Depending on how often you use your apps of choice, they can be highly effective in helping to lower feelings of anxiety, stress, and panic. Many of these apps use evidence-based techniques of mindfulness and grounding. According to a 2012 review, these techniques have been found to calm the sympathetic nervous system, effectively reducing stress and creating a more relaxed body.
However, apps for anxiety don’t replace mental health professionals. They’re mainly designed to serve as a supplement to regular therapy appointments, or as distractions in moments of panic.
What are the benefits of apps for anxiety?
Apps for anxiety are:
mostly free or low cost
accessible if you have a smartphone
They can also help improve moods and provide healthy coping mechanisms.
Is there anyone who shouldn’t use apps for anxiety?
Anyone who is living with a serious mental health condition or addiction or feeling suicidal should, first and foremost, consult with their doctor or healthcare professional. In an emergency, contact a crisis hotline, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, or 911.
This is because mental health apps are not intended to diagnose a condition or take the place of a mental health professional.
A number of anxiety apps are on the market, and many of them aim to help ease anxiety in a number of different ways. With the many options available, choose the app that works best for you.
It’s also important to keep in mind that some of these apps may not work for you at all. If you find that an app isn’t successful for you, consider trying a different one.