Mental health professionals are increasingly using apps with their PTSD patients. We’ve asked the experts with real, hands-on experience for their top recommendations…
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be a paralysing experience – often forcing patients to re-live frightening or dangerous trauma. Fear triggers can be so strong that re-experiencing events and emotions can have serious knock-on effects on present life.
And the NHS isn’t coping with demand. With mental health waiting lists at an all time high, patients can be expected to wait months for an appointment with a professional – often referred for CBT which adds them to one of the longest queues of all.
Can apps really help with PTSD?
In the 2014 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing in England, in the large general population sample, 3.7% of men and 5.1% of women screened positive for PTSD. It may come as no surprise that as apps grow smarter and more capable, the professionals themselves are turning to them to assist with treatment.
Mental health coach and GP Dr. Hana Patel says that online resources, including apps, are often used as part of a patent’s therapeutic treatment plan.
She told Health Tech World: “After the pandemic, the NHS was put under unprecedented strain with regards to the numbers of patients being referred to mental health services and led to even more prolonged waiting times.
“The NHS is investing in and using more technological solutions to aid in healthcare, including the use of video and remote consultations, and AI.”
“After being asked to look at current apps that can help patients cope with PTSD, I thought it would help me and my patients to know a little more about these apps and to see what is available currently.
“I have no affiliation with any of these apps and will go through some in this article. I have tried to focus on different types of apps, as one approach may not suit another person.”
Dr Patel’s top 5 apps for PTSD
Android | Free
I found this app and it has been created for people struggling with either emotionally unstable personality disorder, PTSD, or those who suffer from dissociative symptoms. It contains an ‘In Crisis’ section which allows users to try Mindfulness and grounding techniques, offering a crisis list for relapse prevention, and a flashback section.
There are different modules such as Mindfulness, emotional regulation, relations, distress tolerance, validation, and a diary card section. This app offers users to try to strengthen their thoughts and form alternative thoughts.
iOS | Free
This free app has been designed for people suffering from PTSD and offers everything from self-assessment for PTSD, to opportunities to find support, positive self-talk, and anger management. The user is able to personalise tools based on their own individual needs and preferences, and integrate their contacts, photos, and music, for a customised approach.
iOS | Free
This app consists of a number of applications that focuses on self-tracking as a tool for coping with mental illnesses including depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and PTSD.
The app helps users to detect patterns in their mood, creating a way to identify triggers and other things that affect their mental health.
Users are able to create a customisable wellness plan to chart their coping mechanisms, that can be updated as they come to have a deeper understanding of what they need to tackle their mental illness.
iOS | Free
This is a mental health support app for our service and ex-service personnel, who unfortunately are at risk of experiencing PTSD.
This app provides tailored information on eleven different mental health problems including anxiety, post-traumatic stress and depression, as well as highlighting where to access help.
There is a psychiatrist who through interactive videos outlines the signs of mental health problems to encourage personnel to seek advice if they feel they have any of these symptoms.
Cove: ‘music for mental health’
iOS /Android | Free
This app lets users create music to help them manage their emotions, using sound instead of words. Users are able to create music to reflect emotions like joy, sadness, calm and anger. This music can then be stored in a personal journal, or sent to someone to let the music do the talking of how they are feeling.
Online resources for PTSD
Juliette Karaman, a UK-certified trauma, mind and body coach from Feel Fully You says it’s also worth taking advantage of the free information that can be found online.
She said: “There are so many people out there that have done incredible work on PTSD. And there is so much free information that. It can help people to experience magic and start moving it through their bodies so that the drama doesn’t continue to stay there”.
“I usually take my clients through some of my own processes, but also through hypnotherapy. So I take them for example through regression therapy, timeline therapy.
“For instance, I pay attention to Marisa Peer School, which of course helps with a lot of things, Dr. Peter Levine’s books, and Gabor Mate’s works.”
Senior Psychological Therapist Somia Zaman from My Therapy Rooms claims that apps are no substitute for the care needed, but that they can go a long way towards relieving some symptoms. She said: “I have had a few patients use apps during trauma therapy with me.
“I think generally they have helped my clients to be more grounded and relaxed, it’s taught them skills we would have covered in therapy which has certainly enhanced this particular part of therapy.
She added: “I don’t think apps can cure and address the root causes of a person’s PTSD. Though they may be helpful in terms of educating on what PTSD is, and also helping to teach people skills to manage their symptoms and to feel calmer – something we would call ‘grounding’ techniques in trauma therapy.”
UK charity which focuses purely on PTSD. Find out more here.
Dr Hana Patel
Signs of PTSD