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New Phone App is Proven to Lower Anxiety Levels

Dr. Tracy Dennis, professor at Hunter College in New York, has been busy working with developers to create “Personal Zen,” a game that incorporates the latest science to clinically reduce anxiety levels while you play on your Smart Phone.

“There’s really a crisis in mental health now where we have some excellent scientifically-supported treatments for things like stress and anxiety disorders but they’re burdensome, expensive, stigmatizing, and time-consuming,” Dennis told CBS News. “We as psychologists need to do a better job of developing treatments that people can access that are effective.”

Research has shown that nearly 18% of American adults experience anxiety each year and only 37% of those affected are receiving treatment. “Personal Zen,” was designed to be more engaging than previous cognitive-bias modification treatments on the computer which were quoted as “tedious and boring,” by Dr. Laura O’Toole a postdoctoral research fellow at Hunter College. “The goal of our study was to ‘game-ify’ an emerging computerized therapeutic approach in order to attempt to overcome some of the barriers to treatment…by making it more engaging and enjoyable for people to play,” said Dr. O’Toole.

The app is currently being tested by a group of mildly anxious pregnant women. The women are playing the game at home while their brain activity and anxiety levels are being tracked to see how stress levels could affect their baby’s development.
If creating evidence-supported games can help people manage stress, anxiety and other disorders, and the game could be synced up to other devices- for example if a FitBit could measure stress, it could alert you to play “Personal Zen” if your stress levels got too high!

“I think the potential here is unlimited,” says Dennis.

See the link below for more information on this study:


About Jill Sauser, Project Coordinator, The Kim Foundation
Jill has a B.S. in Journalism (PR/Advertising) and a Minor in Speech Communication from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. During her time at UNO, she completed a two year PR practicum program where she worked with numerous nonprofit clients including the MS Society, The Archdiocese of Omaha, and YWCA. Jill joined The Kim Foundation as Project Coordinator in April 2014.