Best Apps for Anxiety

Calm is our pick for best overall anxiety app

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Anxiety disorders affect millions of people in the United States and can have a major impact on their quality of life. While it's best to seek help from a mental health professional to treat an anxiety disorder, for many that's easier said than done. Luckily, numerous apps available today are designed to help anxiety sufferers find relief. Anxiety-focused apps offer a multitude of helpful tools like guided meditation, breathing exercises, journaling, digital color-by-number activities, and other evidence-based methods designed to alleviate anxiety.

Apps that help manage anxiety symptoms can be a game changer for people with busy schedules, those living in rural communities with limited access to mental health professionals, or can't financially sustain the cost of regular trips to mental health appointments. During an interview with Verywell Mind, Dr. Julie Landry PsyD, ABPP, said she often prescribes anxiety and meditation apps to her patients because "Apps are convenient. Most of us have our phones with us at all times so the app is easily accessible no matter where we are. They're also discreet. Others don't know if you're listening to music, talking to your mom, or practicing guided meditation."

Mobile apps allow users to experience guided breathwork and meditation from world-renowned therapists and teachers anytime and anywhere. We researched over 40 different apps designed to help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and chose the best ones based on factors like cost, programs offered, results, ease of use, and whether medical professionals were involved in the development of the app and its offerings.

Best Apps for Anxiety

Best Overall : Calm


Why We Chose It

Calm is our top pick for the best overall anxiety app because of its wide range of regularly updated classes, activities, sleep sounds, masterclasses, and affordable price.

Specs
  • Cost: 7-day free trial; $14.99/month, $69.99/year
  • Platforms: iOS + Android
  • Free to Download: Yes

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Family plan

  • Guided meditations by top celebrities

  • Inspires growth, habit changes, and self-care

Cons
  • Content for kids requires paid subscription

  • Free content is very limited

  • Sleep stories are long

Calm’s free version includes timed meditation options, the first day of many of its multi-day meditation programs (such as seven days of focus or 21 days of calm), the Breathe Bubble, and a sleep story called Blue Gold. The app also has free scenes users can select from to play nature sounds and/or music in the background on both the guided and unguided meditation.

A premium subscription includes an original Daily Calm meditation session, several hours of guided meditations covering sleep, anxiety, stress, and gratitude, meditations for kids, and much more. It also grants users access to a library of more than 120 sleep stories. New stories are added every week, along with exclusive music tracks for focus, relaxation, sleep, and masterclasses featuring world-renowned mindfulness experts.

Best for Adults : Headspace


Headspace

 Headspace

Why We Chose It

Headspace is all about being kind to your mind. With topics ranging from stress about politics, to death, aging anxiety, body anxiety, and so much more.

Specs
  • Cost: $12.99/monthly; $69.99/annually; family plan for up to six users is $99.99/year
  • Platforms: iOS + Android
  • Free to Download: Yes
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Individual, family, and student subscription plans available

  • Anxiety-specific course offered

  • Free 2-week trial

Cons
  • Subscription needed to unlock a variety of meditations most useful for anxiety

  • App focuses mostly on meditation rather than anxiety-specific therapeutic techniques

Headspace has one mission: to improve the health and happiness of the world. And with millions of users in more than 190 countries, it is certainly making strides toward that goal.

New users can try a two-week free trial of Headspace Plus and enjoy access to hundreds of guided meditations on everything from stress to sleep. There are short meditations you can do anytime with expert guidance from Headspace co-founder Andy Puddicombe, a former monk. The sleep sounds are sure to ease your mind into a truly restful sleep.

Headspace’s website cites a University of Oxford study that "found that eight weeks of using the [Headspace] app (for 10–20 minute sessions) resulted in a 31% decrease in symptoms of anxiety and a 46% decrease in depression symptoms."

The app is available on Apple iOS or Android devices and can be downloaded from the Apple iTunes App Store or Google Play Store.

Best for Therapy : BetterHelp


Verywell Mind readers get 20% off their first month of membership to Betterhelp (includes Teen, Pride, Faithful and Regain).

Why We Chose It

BetterHelp is one of the top-rated therapy apps, offering affordable and convenient counseling from licensed therapists. Its wide range of resources helps clients cope with a variety of conditions, including stress and anxiety.

Specs
  • Cost: $60-$150/week
  • Platforms: iOS + Android
  • Free to Download: Yes
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Multiple communication methods available

  • Available on the App Store, Google Play, and via internet browsers

  • High user satisfaction

Cons
  • Session lengths vary by therapist

  • No medication management available

  • May not be appropriate for severe anxiety or phobias

If you’d prefer an app that helps you build coping skills and work on trauma with the help of a professional, BetterHelp is a solid option. The company’s thousands of licensed therapists offer convenient counseling for less than the cost of traditional, in-office sessions.

BetterHelp offers clients a range of beneficial resources for stress management, grief, anger, self-esteem, and other mental health issues. You will receive personalized treatment using a variety of techniques that may include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), psychoanalytic psychotherapy, eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and others, depending on the therapist you work with. 

BetterHelp only offers one subscription billed every four weeks, but the price per month may range from $240 to $600 based on your location and current therapist availability.

Best for Teens : Colorfy


Colorfy

Colorfy

Why We Chose It

Meditations, breathing exercises, and visualization can be difficult for teens. Colorfy gives them a tangible task to work on with their hands while focusing their attention and mind through coloring.

Specs
  • Cost: $9.99/Week
  • Platforms: iOS + Android
  • Free to Download: Yes
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Focuses and calms the mind through art therapy

  • Weekly, monthly, and annual subscription options

  • More than 1,000 pictures available to paint

Cons
  • Artwork is lost if the app is deleted

  • Listed as a free app, but payment is necessary to access most pictures

Colorfy is an art and coloring game designed to help users pass the time, relax their mind and have fun. Coloring comes in the form of a painting book with several designs to choose from. Users will find complex and simple art such as mandalas, animals, patterns, and florals in the coloring book, and they have the option to upload their drawings to color. Although the app is free with in-app purchases, there are limited coloring pages available for non-subscribers.

According to clinical psychologist Scott M. Bea, PsyD, it has everything to do with refocusing our attention, “Adult coloring requires modest attention focused outside of self-awareness," Dr. Bea says. “It’s a simple activity that takes us outside ourselves in the same way cutting the lawn, knitting, or taking a Sunday drive can all be relaxing."

A 2012 study examined the use of art therapy to reduce anxiety with a group of undergraduate students. The results showed a decrease in anxiety levels and suggested that the practice created a meditative state beneficial for reducing anxiety.

Best for Kids : Smiling Mind


Smiling Mind

Smiling Mind

Why We Chose It

Smiling Minds is one of the few anxiety apps created for children. The app has easy guided meditations and activities designed specifically for kids starting with one-minute meditations and The Bubble Journey.

Specs
  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms: iOS + Android
  • Free to Download: Yes
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Totally free

  • Geared toward children 3 and up

  • Meditations start at one minute to help children build on the practice minute by minute

Cons
  • Children will need a phone or tablet to use the app

  • Email address is required at signup

  • Australian accent may be distracting for some children

Smiling Mind was developed by psychologists and educators to help bring mindful balance to children and adults. The creators behind this app believe "accessibility and inclusiveness are key to empowering a new generation to thrive. We approach everything we do in an open, curious, and non-judgmental way."

Smiling Mind meditations for children start at age 3 with programs called The Bubble Journey, Smiling Starfish, and the Snow Globe. There are also guided meditations for older children that focus on being present and how to be more focused in school and even sports. Created by a family organization in Australia, the guided meditations are read by people with Australian accents, which may be difficult for some children to understand. However, some children may enjoy the accents and thus become more engaged in the lessons.

Studies show one in four secondary students and one in seven primary school students experience a mental illness. Mindfulness is proven to lead to better attention, memory, regulation of emotions, and self-awareness. In turn, improvements in these areas can lead to reduced stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as better academic skills, social skills, and self-esteem.

Best Free App : Insight Timer


Insight Timer

Insight Timer

Why We Chose It

Insight Timer offers guided meditations of various lengths led by mental health professionals.

Specs
  • Cost: Premium subscription is $9.99/month or $69.99/year
  • Platforms: iOS + Android
  • Free to Download: Yes
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Large variety of meditation styles

  • Renowned teachers and guides

  • Thousands of meditations available, including more than 1,500 specifically for anxiety

Cons
  • Access to meditations is only available offline if using a premium account

  • Picking up where you left off in a session is only available for premium members

  • Some audio is not of ideal quality

Insight Timer offers guided meditations and anxiety alleviation talks led by some of the world’s top meditation and mindfulness experts, neuroscientists, psychologists, and instructors from Stanford, Harvard, the University of Oxford, and more. Over 1,500 meditations for anxiety are offered for free, a list that includes close to 400 music selections for anxiety and nearly 200 anxiety talks.

Regular and daily meditation for anxiety relief helps people focus on staying in the present moment and recognize a situation for what it is. Users can sort through meditations based on the length of the session and the gender, popularity, and other information about the teacher. For users who wish to take their meditations offline or tune into courses, an upgrade to Insight Premium is available for $9.99 per month or $59.99 per year.

Best for Beginners : iBreathe


iBreathe

iBreathe

Why We Chose It

Whether you are struggling with stress, anxiety, insomnia, or are trying to meditate and relax, iBreathe provides an easy-to-use, beautifully designed user interface that is excellent for beginners.

Specs
  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms: iOS Only
  • Free to Download: Yes
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Clean and simple interface

  • Syncs with Apple Health

  • Free to use

Cons
  • Not available on Android

  • Free version has ads that can be distracting

For those who are just beginning to learn how to meditate, iBreathe makes it easier than ever. The app's breathing exercises are simple and fully customizable to meet your level and needs. You choose how long the session will last and the number of breathing techniques included in each session. This allows you to start slowly and build up to longer, deeper breathing sessions as you become more comfortable with the techniques.

iBreathe syncs with quick actions via haptic touch (a long press from your iPhone or Apple Watch home screen) to quickly start your breathing exercises, which is great when anxiety peaks. Customizable reminders that tell you to breathe throughout the day can be set, and there are predefined presets specifically designed to help with stress and anxiety.

Best for Insomnia : Tide


Why We Chose It

Tide is a free app with in-app purchases designed to help users sleep better. Unique to this app is a gentle wake alarm feature.

Specs
  • Cost: Tide Plus Premium is $11.99/month or $59.99/year
  • Platforms: iOS + Android
  • Free to Download: Yes
What We Like
  • Available to users on a variety of devices and platforms

  • Beautiful interface and graphics

  • Sleep analysis

What We Don't Like
  • Most sleep meditations and sounds are only available to paid users

  • In-app ads can be distracting

Disrupted sleep can worsen anxiety both in the moment and throughout the day. Tide helps users sleep and nap with the sounds of nature. The app is available for iPhone, Android, iPad, and Chrome users. Tide’s goal is to get listeners away from their fast-paced life and into calm, peaceful moments.

Tide offers sleep analysis, light wake-up alarms, nap modes, and calming nature sounds for users looking to optimize their sleep. More robust sleep meditations are only available for Tide Plus subscribers.

Best for Learning Breathing Techniques : Breathwrk


Breathwrk

Breathwrk

Why We Chose It

While many breathing apps only focus on meditation and relaxation, Breathwrk also offers classes and programs called Awake, Energize, Ease Pain Relief, Unwind, Recharge, Stamina, and Evening Reboot.

Specs
  • Cost: Premium subscription for $7.99/month; $38.99/year; $199/lifetime
  • Platforms: iOS + Android
  • Free to Download: Yes

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Meditations that geared toward relieving pain and and improving energy

  • Wide variety of meditations available

  • Teaches calming breathing techniques you can do anytime and anywhere with or without the app

Cons
  • Premium subscription needed to unlock the wide variety of options

  • Requires internet access while using


Breathwrk has emerged as the App Store's #1 breathing app, and for good reason. The app offers breathing exercise programs that promote calm, relaxation, and everything from pain management to giving you that mid-day jolt of energy to help carry you through the rest of your work day.

Breathwrk offers a wide range of breathing exercise programs, including Calm, Sleep, Awake, Energize, Anxiety, Ease Pain Relief, Unwind, Recharge, and Stamina. Each program is designed to help with everything from anxiety to cardiovascular health to blood pressure, pain management, and insomnia.

Studies show that "slow, voluntarily regulated breathing practices are non-invasive, easy to learn, and generally safe for treating patients with symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, depression, stress- and trauma-related disorders, ADHD, schizophrenia, and substance abuse."

Best for Peer Support : Shine


Shine App

Courtesy of Shine 

Why We Chose It

One of the best aspects of shine is the peer support community, which makes it unique compared to other apps on this list. Whether you are looking for help with anxiety, overall mental health, or peer support, Shine is a great choice.

Key Specs
  • Cost: Premium subscription is $14.99/month or $64.99/year
  • Platforms: iOS + Android
  • Free to Download: Yes
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Self improvement activities to battle anxiety

  • Peer-to-peer support

  • BIPOC-focused topics

Cons
  • Very few free options available

  • Expensive

The Shine app prides itself on being a self-care tool that assists with reducing anxiety, improving mental health, and providing peer-to-peer support, and it certainly does all of that. Upon opening the app you are greeted by calming wind chimes and light music that instantly invoke a feeling of relaxation. You will then be prompted to input a daily check-in that allows you to record your mood and begin a gratitude journal.

With a premium subscription, you unlock an exclusive library with thousands of meditations created by a diverse set of experts. There are also personalized tools and content that are populated based on your needs. You will need a premium membership to take advantage of the inclusive community and mental health experts.

Final Verdict

Millions of people are afflicted by anxiety-related conditions, which can often be debilitating. Calm is our pick for best overall because of its wide range of offerings and affordable price point. Calm was also highly recommended by many of the mental health experts we interviewed while researching anxiety apps. Dr. Seema Sarin, MD, DiplABLM said, "I like the Calm app. It has hundreds of calming exercises and breathing techniques. The app itself is relatively easy to navigate, and they are always posting more content. I’ve had many patients who have found this app helpful."

If you are looking for an app that can help your entire family learn meditation techniques and improve overall mental health, the Smiling Minds app is a great choice. Its learning tools help people to better cope with tough situations, especially children.

Best Anxiety Apps Cost Free w/ Limited Access Free Trial Offered for Premium Access Platforms Available
Best Overall Calm 7-day free trial; $14.99/month, $69.99/year Yes Yes iOS + Android
Best for Adults Headspace 2-week free trial; $12.99/monthly, $69.99/annual Yes Yes iOS + Android
Best for Therapy BetterHelp $60-$90/week Yes No iOS + Android
Best for Teens Colorfy $9.99/week Yes No iOS + Android
Best for Kids Smiling Mind Free N/A N/A iOS + Android
Best Free Insight Timer Free or Insight Premium for $9.99/month; $69.99/year Yes Yes iOS + Android
Best for Beginners iBreathe Free N/A N/A iOS Only
Best for Insomnia Tide Free or Tide Plus Premium for $11.99/month; $59.99/year Yes No iOS + Android
Best for Learning Breathing Techniques Breathwrk Free or premium subscription for $7.99/month; $38.99/year; $199/lifetime Yes Yes iOS + Android
Best for Peer Support Shine Free, or premium access starts at $14.99/month; $64.99/year Yes Yes iOS + Android

Guide for Choosing Apps for Anxiety

How to Choose the Right Anxiety App for You

When choosing the best anxiety app to meet your needs, first consider what level of support you need and the types of things you want to learn; meditation, breathing techniques, anxiety coping skills, and self-control are just a few lessons these apps might offer. Then, consider how much time and money you want to spend on the app.

What to Look for in an Anxiety App

Below are a few factors to weigh before downloading any of the above-mentioned apps to ensure you get the most out of it, especially if you intend to spend money on the premium services offered.

  • Pricing: Many of the apps reviewed in this list offer different purchase options, from weekly to monthly to annual subscriptions. Decide if you are comfortable with the app charging your account each week or month according to its renewal terms. Is it better for you to pay for the annual subscription in one lump sum to avoid having to factor in a weekly or monthly deduction to your budget?
  • Platforms: Perhaps the app is available on iOs or Android, but is it accessible on your other devices as well? While many app developers are taking that into account when designing apps for compatibility, not all do. Ensure the app is available on the device(s) you plan to use it on.
  • Research-Based Program: Apps geared toward mental health should be designed and written with research-based information and expert-driven techniques. Make sure the app you choose is supported as such and vetted by professionals in the field the app is geared toward.
  • Programs Offered: Anxiety apps offer a multitude of programs including guided meditation, breathing techniques, soothing soundtracks, sleep stories, self-help activities, and more. Additionally, some apps offer one- to five-minute guided meditations while others offer much longer sessions. Decide what you are comfortable committing to so you have a better chance of successfully using the app and enjoying its benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How Do Apps for Anxiety Work?

    Most of the apps we reviewed integrate meditation and breathwork, two interventions known to help combat anxiety. Some apps may offer specific courses to learn more about anxiety, whereas others will have specific meditations and exercises to decrease anxiety levels.

  • How Much Do Apps for Anxiety Cost?

    The price of apps for anxiety ranges from free to annual subscriptions that cost about $70. Many apps offer a free trial period, and some are free with in-app purchases.

  • Can I Get My Money Back If I Cancel the Subscription?

    Most apps are great about refunding your money if you cancel the app, or at least refunding a portion depending on the length of time you've already been a subscriber. That said, it's important to read the fine print before investing in an app.

  • Are Anxiety Apps as Good as Seeing a Mental Health Provider?

    Anxiety apps are a great tool to use in between appointments with your mental health expert, but they by no means take the place of one. It's important to work with your doctor or therapist to get to the root of what causes your anxiety; these apps cannot help with that. Our expert Dr. Landry says, "I often recommend these apps to my patients when appropriate in the context of learning meditation skills and mindfulness. However, I ensure my patients know these apps are only one available tool available to address their mental health needs."

Methodology

During the creation of this roundup, our reviewers researched more than 50 apps for alleviating and managing anxiety. The apps were assessed on whether they were developed via research-based programs and experts, regularly updated, offered guided meditations geared toward alleviating anxiety and stress, the number of positive reviews, cost, and the variety of programs and activities offered.

Article Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  3. Shapiro, S. L., Carlson, L. E., Astin, J. A., & Freedman, B. (2006). Mechanisms of mindfulness. Journal of clinical psychology, 62(3), 373-386

  4. Patricia L. Gerbarg MD, Richard P. Brown MD. Neurobiology and neurophysiology of breath practices in psychiatric carePsychiatric Times. 2016;33(11).

By Deborah R. Glasofer, PhD
Deborah Glasofer, PhD is a professor of clinical psychology and practitioner of cognitive behavioral therapy.