Listen: ReachOut CEO Jonathon Nicholas explains two new apps designed to help with anxiety.
People with anxiety often suffer in silence. The quiet condition, characterised by symptoms like constant worry, fear, tension, insomnia and accelerated heart rate, makes many of its sufferers feel they are alone.
To help, ReachOut Australia has developed two apps, ReachOut Breathe and ReachOut WorrryTime that aim to help young people reach for help immediately and manage the early symptoms of worry and anxiety.
Jonathon Nicholas, ReachOut’s CEO, told Hope Media that the apps can help anyone whether they have an anxiety disorder or not.
“ReachOut Breathe measures your heart rate using your iPhone,” he said. “Once you have the heart rate it takes you through a program to help you breathe slowly and consistently.
“That helps reduce the symptoms of feeling anxious and reduce your heart rate, which allows you to turn your brain back on so you can think better and move through the issues.
“ReachOut WorryTime is a specific technique that helps you manage chronic worries. You write your worries down, you put them in a spot, you create a time where you can worry about it later and you move through actions to resolve those worries.”
ReachOut Breathe is available in the Apple App Store, while ReachOut WorryTime is available both from the Android and Apple stores.
Celebrities Suffer Anxiety Too
The condition touches teens and adults, superstars and office workers alike, often making them feel isolated and dejected. But while people suffering anxiety often feel alone, it’s a very common affliction; in Australia, one in six people aged 16–24 years are currently experiencing an anxiety condition. And over 1.3 million Australians suffer Social Anxiety Disorder, according to Peter McEvoy of the Curtin Psychology Clinic – that’s the same number of people as the entire city of Adelaide.
Mr Nicholas said anxiety was one of the most common conditions people experience.
“It can be caused by anything from worrying about first dates, worrying how you’re doing in a job to worrying about how you’re doing in exams,” he said. “The feelings are so common but so unique to everyone’s personal situation. About one in any six young people at any given time suffer from anxiety so it’s one of the most common mental health conditions.”
Identifying The Symptoms Of Anxiety
The uneasy characteristics of anxiety include constant worrying, inability to relax, trouble sleeping and difficulty concentrating on things like work and study. But it also includes very physical symptoms.
“Anxiety is often a very felt experience in terms of physical sensations,” Mr Nicholas said. “You will feel your heart rate go up, you’re sweaty, you’ll feel in your mind quite often that you have the same thought going around and around and around and you can’t break that cycle.
“If you have got that sensation of being very worried and very stressed without resolution it is likely that you are having feelings of anxiety.”
He said it’s important to catch the symptoms of anxiety early so the problem does not escalate.
Anxiety Isn’t Always Negative
There are situations where anxiety can be a positive experience, but in many cases, the issues are allowed to build and that’s when it gets unhealthy.
“Anxiety is about our brain kicking into gear in a fight or flight mode,” Mr Nicholas said. “The challenge if you are experiencing it without resolution is that it can just go round and around,” he said. “So, if you’re feeling anxious because you’re about to start a running race and you have all that energy but then you run off all that energy then it is absolutely no problem.
“If you’re feeling anxious and it’s actually incapacitating you or stopping you from doing something then that’s a problem.”
Need More Support?
ReachOut’s website, au.reachout.com, is designed for teenagers who need support. It helps adolescents combat common social issues that they might otherwise find it difficult to talk about.