With the fast-paced lifestyle, people have nowadays, it seems modern living comes with stress and anxiety being delivered like a package right into your doorsteps. The advancement of technology can help in treating anxiety far more you can imagine, and you may already be using it but don’t know it can help reduce stress and anxiety levels.
But of course, too much anxiety would warrant professional help. Healthcare institutions provide inpatient and outpatient counseling for anxiety such as Alvarado Parkway Institute and other reputable behavioral healthcare systems.
In this article, you’ll learn different technologies in treating anxiety.
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a result of stress and overthinking triggered by a threatening event, and too much worrying can result in a disorder. Untreated anxiety could lead to severe depression and schizophrenia, an irreversible and lifetime mental health illness.
Here are the five types of anxiety disorders:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
This anxiety disorder is characterized by exaggerated worry and chronic anxiety with little or zero triggering factors.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Patients with OCD experience recurrent, unwanted thoughts or obsessions and repetitive behaviors or compulsions. Some examples of repetitive behaviors include frequent hand washing, cleaning, or checking. These rituals provide temporary relief, which markedly increases anxiety when not performed.
- Panic Disorder
This anxiety disorder is often manifested by repeated and unexpected episodes of intense fear, including physical symptoms such as difficulty breathing, chest pain, palpitations, or stomach upset.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
This anxiety disorder usually develops after exposure to a tragic event resulting in physical harm such as violent personal assaults, natural disasters, military combat, or vehicular accident.
- Social Anxiety Disorder
This anxiety disorder is also called social phobia, in which the patient shows excessive self-consciousness and overwhelming anxiety in everyday social situations. The patient may experience fear of speaking in informal or formal situations or even to the extent of feeling intense fear when being around people.
Internet Of Things In Anxiety Management
The Internet of Things (IoT), in healthcare, involves the use of sensors, software programs, and other digital technologies to connect and exchange data with other devices over the internet. The automation, data storage, and data management using IoT make monitoring and treatment of anxiety a lot easier and faster than conventional treatments such as online patient education and cognitive-behavioral treatment.
Here’s a quick list of the role of IoT in anxiety management:
- Adjunct treatment or supplement traditional anxiety interventions
- Provide convenient treatment platforms
- Increase levels of privacy to avoid social stigma and stereotyping
- Quick treatment delivery and effective monitoring
Digital Technologies In Treating Anxiety
You’ve just learned the overview of anxiety and the role of IoT in anxiety treatment, so it’s about time to learn the different digital technologies in treating anxiety. Here are some of them:
- Internet Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (iCBT)
In a review of digital technologies used in the treatment of anxiety, the effectiveness of a computerized version of CBT through the internet was studied, which is called iCBT. This type of cognitive-behavioral therapy delivered online could reduce anxiety symptoms with the same effectiveness as face-to-face treatments.
Here are the good-to-know things about iCBT:
- iCBT Courses
Internet CBT courses consist of a series of standardized lessons or modules delivered in a fixed time frame like face-to-face CBT interventions.
Online modules serve as psychoeducation, teaching the user how to implement CBT skills to modify key maladaptive physical sensations, emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Between session tasks or homework are recommended like face-to-face CBT to learn self-management of symptoms.
- Program Format
Programs vary in style of delivery and format, which include behavioral experiments, thought monitoring, and thought challenging to modify negative thinking patterns, reduce maladaptive avoidance patterns, and prevent relapse.
- Clinician Role
In iCBT programs, it involves remote clinician support such as advising via phone, text messages, email and chat messages delivered through a secure messaging app platform.
Automated prevention-focused initiatives with iCBT being delivered through school and community-based programs also demonstrated efficacy to reduce anxiety.
- Mobile Applications
A 2020 published research about the use of digital health technologies in managing insomnia among military populations showed mobile apps can be used as effective interventions for sleeplessness.
According to the review, internet-based cognitive behavioral programs are as effective as face-to-face cognitive treatments. Mobile apps for smartphones can be an effective technique used in the treatment of sleep disorders like insomnia, which is often caused by stress and anxiety.
While there’s limited research available, results indicate a potential for the successful delivery of CBT treatments for insomniacs using mobile and online platforms. Future evidence-based studies to determine the effectiveness of technology-based treatments for the military population are still needed.
- Wearable Health Monitoring System
A wearable health monitoring system can be used in treating anxiety and even panic attacks among patients with posttraumatic stress disorder. PTSD can occur to people who had witnessed or encountered traumatic events, and having an automated system can help reduce nightmares for individuals by wearing devices with sensors used in monitoring the status and activities of the person.
Take a look at the following findings of a research article about using wearable devices in monitoring patients with PTSD to help treat anxiety:
An automated system can help monitor signs of nightmares, suppress them, and could wake the patient up, which can improve the quality of life of PTSD patients suffering from unwanted thoughts.
- How It Works
The proposed innovation includes a combination of aromatherapy, auditory therapy, and temperature control capabilities integrated into a wearable device.
The system can be optimized through remote management and machine learning, impacting millions of people with PTSD.
- Virtual Reality
The ongoing COVID-19 has significantly affected millions of people up to this time as new mutations and strains are emerging in various parts of the world. Mental health disorders are increasing, stemming from the stress and anxiety coming from the virus, producing uncertainty and fear. For this reason, companies are trying to find ways to help resolve psychological problems associated with the pandemic such as the use of virtual reality.
Virtual reality (VR) makes use of computer technology or software programs to create a simulated experience far different or similar to the real world. The common applications of VR include business, entertainment, and education, but VR in healthcare is now rising. VR therapy for treating coronavirus-related anxiety is now possible. With VR, along with augmented reality (AR) apps and games, technological advancements can help reduce anxiety.
For instance, one company uses biofeedback mechanics control system, in which the user can explore the beautiful underwater world while deep breathing to relax the nervous system. The breathing is measured by a belt wrapped around the diaphragm.
- Telehealth Services
Telemedicine or telehealth services are widely used nowadays. The future of telemedicine is now being realized, wherein more and more people are setting up medical and dental appointments over the internet. Online medical consultations are performed through video conferencing using communication apps, allowing the clinician and the patient to talk and discuss possible treatments for various health problems such as anxiety.
Virtual consultations for anxiety management include the following:
The psychiatrist asks the patient to answer an assessment questionnaire online to determine mental health status.
- Psychological Counseling
Psychologists and psychiatrists can provide professional counseling based on the result of the online assessment and interview. Chat counseling is also available for patients who prefer to talk to someone privately and off-camera. In this way, they can fully express their thoughts and feelings, helping them unload their psychological burden without feeling judged or ridiculed.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
CBT can be administered online, like what was discussed with iCBT above in managing anxiety. This therapy enables patients to gain helpful insights about their ill behavior and helps them change into better people with healthy coping mechanisms.
- Guided Imagery
The clinician asks the patient to focus on the image or video shown on the computer screen while performing deep breathing and other focus or mindfulness exercises. Hypnosis sessions through guided imagery can be performed online too, helping patients understand the deeper meaning of life’s purpose and their existence.
- Group Therapy
Telemedicine can also be used to conduct group therapy sessions, involving two or more patients having the same anxiety problem. In group therapy, patients can relate to each other, shedding enlightenment to what they’re experiencing at the moment, giving them valuable insights like reminding them they’re not alone with their journey, and instilling change is possible.
- Patient Follow-up
Traditional and online appointments can be combined in anxiety management. Clinicians can follow up on the patient’s progress after inpatient treatment through telehealth services, which is practical during this time of the pandemic.
Mobile apps, automated software programs, wearable devices, mobile devices, and other IoT devices play a crucial role in the effective treatment of anxiety, along with prescribed medications.
Virtual reality, automation, and other innovative digital solutions help promote greater relaxation, which helps in treating anxiety disorders. But with the use of these technological guides, patients should still seek medical consultation and discuss such treatments with a qualified mental health professional.