Five Mobile Apps to Help Patients With Anxiety and Depression


When patients need some assistance coping with mental distress, consider these apps.

Fam Pract Manag. 2018 Mar-Apr;25(2):oa1-oa4.

Author disclosure: no relevant financial affiliations disclosed.

Many of our patients struggle with some form of mental illness. Statistics show that 19 percent of U.S. adults have some form of anxiety disorder, and 6.7 percent have had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.1,2

Given the ubiquity of mobile devices, it makes sense that patients could use these tools to help them cope with or even prevent the symptoms of anxiety and depression. They may even ask you for recommendations. To help you guide patients to the most helpful apps, this article presents five that stand apart from the rest when reviewed using FPM's “SPPACES” criteria.


S — Source or developer of app

P — Platforms available

P — Pertinence to primary care practice

A — Authoritativeness/accuracy/currency of information

C — Cost

E — Ease of use

S — Sponsor(s)


7 Cups uses trained, volunteer, active listeners to provide free, anonymous, and confidential emotional support to patients needing help coping with acute stressors and long-term mental health issues.

Source: 7 Cups of Tea, Co.

Platforms available: Android (http://bit.ly/2g0xDCv); iOS 7.0 or later for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (https://apple.co/2GH4kPe).

Pertinence to primary care practice: As primary care physicians, we are not always available when our patients need us most for their mental health needs. The 7 Cups app provides trained listeners 24 hours a day and approximately 300 free mindfulness exercises, cute online videos, chat rooms, and community forums.

Authoritativeness/accuracy/currency of information: The app was founded by licensed psychologist Glen Moriarty. All active listeners have to complete Moriarty's Active Listening Program and receive a perfect score on the quiz to participate. The service is completely anonymous and confidential. Patients can choose from more than 160,000 trained active listeners and licensed therapists based on reviews and a list of topics they specialize in, such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, LGBTQ issues, breakups, bullying, or eating disorders. Each active listener is rated based on his or her helpfulness, professionalism, empathy, and response time, and is also given an overall rating. Unfortunately, not all active listeners are subjected to background checks. Users can choose a different active listener each time or the same active listener in order to develop a long-term, therapeutic relationship. Over time, listeners and users gain points and badges for being involved in the online community, which further motivates them to continue with the program. The app was last updated in September 2017 (Apple) and January 2018 (Android).

Cost: It is free to speak with volunteer active listeners. To speak with licensed psychologists, users can pay $12.99 per month, $94.99 per year, or $399.99 for permanent unlimited access.

Ease of use: It takes less than a minute to create an anonymous profile and start talking with an active listener. Users can search for a listener based


Dr. Rebedew is a family physician at Monroe Clinic in Albany, Wis., and a faculty member for the University of Illinois Rockford Family Medicine Residency.

Author disclosure: no relevant financial affiliations disclosed.


1. Prevalence of any anxiety disorder among adults. National Institute of Mental Health website. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/any-anxiety-disorder.shtml#part_155094. Updated November 2017. Accessed February 2, 2018.

2. Prevalence of major depressive episode among adults. National Institute of Mental Health website. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/major-depression.shtml#part_155029. Updated November 2017. Accessed February 2, 2018.


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