Apps for Studying Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - image

Apps for Studying Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can have a profound impact on an individual’s life, affecting their mental health and overall quality of life. In today’s digital age, mobile applications have emerged as powerful tools to support individuals with PTSD on their path to healing and recovery.

Understanding PTSD

PTSD is a mental health condition that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. It can occur in individuals of all ages and can be triggered by a range of experiences such as physical or sexual assault, natural disasters, accidents, or military combat. Its common symptoms include intrusive memories or flashbacks of the traumatic event, nightmares, severe anxiety or panic attacks, avoidance of triggers associated with the trauma, hypervigilance, difficulty concentrating, and changes in mood or behavior.

Early intervention and ongoing treatment are crucial for managing PTSD effectively. Mental health professionals can provide evidence-based treatments like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and medication, if necessary.

In recent years, mobile apps for PTSD have emerged as adjunct tools in the management of symptoms and the promotion of well-being. They empower individuals to take an active role in their healing journey, providing tools that can be accessed anytime, anywhere.

Symptom Tracking & Management Apps

These apps focus on various signs commonly associated with PTSD, like mood fluctuations, sleep disturbances, and triggers. One of their key features is the ability to maintain a symptom diary. These apps may also include mood trackers, enabling individuals to track their emotional well-being daily and visualize any fluctuations.

Here are a few reputable symptom-tracking and management apps that have garnered positive user reviews:

  • eMoods (iOS, Android): It is specifically designed for tracking mood related to bipolar disorder and depression but can be adapted for tracking PTSD symptoms as well. It allows users to record daily entries and generate detailed reports that can be shared with healthcare professionals.

  • Pacifica (iOS, Android): It is a comprehensive mental health app that includes symptom tracking for various conditions, including PTSD. It offers mood and health tracking, guided self-help exercises, relaxation techniques, and peer support communities.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Apps

CBT focuses on identifying and modifying negative thought patterns and behaviors associated with trauma to help individuals develop healthier coping strategies, reduce distressing symptoms, and improve overall functioning. CBT-based apps provide accessible and convenient platforms for individuals to engage in techniques outside of therapy sessions. They often offer interactive exercises and cognitive restructuring tools as well as progress tracking, reminders for completing exercises, and audio or written materials for psychoeducation.

Some reputable CBT-based apps for PTSD include:

  • PTSD Coach App (iOS, Android): Developed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the PTSD Coach App provides information about PTSD, self-assessment tools, and a range of CBT-based coping techniques. It offers guided exercises for relaxation techniques and resources for locating professional help.

  • Joyable (iOS): It is an app that offers CBT-based programs for various mental health conditions, including PTSD. It provides interactive exercises, video lessons, and personalized coaching to help individuals develop coping skills, reduce symptoms, and improve resilience.

Mindfulness & Relaxation Apps

Mindfulness and relaxation apps often offer a variety of features to support individuals with PTSD. These may include guided meditations, breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation techniques.

Here are some mindfulness and relaxation apps tailored specifically for individuals with PTSD:

  • buddhify (iOS, Android): It offers meditations that encourage active participation through attentive listening. They cater to various forms of movement, such as walking and eating, allowing individuals to engage mindfully. Additionally, there are meditations specifically designed for moments of passive movements, such as when preparing for sleep. The app’s wheel of life encompasses a range of life situations, including travel, stress, pain and illness, challenging emotions, and insomnia.

  • Breathe2Relax (iOS, Android): Breathe2Relax focuses on deep breathing exercises for stress management. It offers guided diaphragmatic breathing exercises to help individuals regulate their breathing patterns and reduce physiological symptoms of stress. The app also includes educational resources on the impact of stress on the body.

Virtual Reality Therapy Apps

VR therapy apps utilize the power of VR technology to recreate various situations that individuals with PTSD find challenging or triggering. These apps offer immersive environments where individuals can gradually confront and process their traumatic experiences in a controlled manner. For example, a VR app might recreate a combat scenario for a military veteran or simulate a car accident for someone with PTSD related to vehicular trauma.

Examples of VR therapy apps for PTSD include:

  • Bravemind (available in select clinical settings): It is a VR therapy platform used in clinical settings for the treatment of PTSD, particularly among military veterans. It provides immersive scenarios related to combat experiences and offers customization options to tailor the therapy to individual needs.

  • Virtual Iraq/Afghanistan (available in select clinical settings): It is a VR therapy program designed to assist in the treatment of PTSD among military personnel. It recreates combat-related scenarios, including auditory and visual stimuli, to facilitate exposure therapy and trauma processing.

Peer Support & Community Apps

Peer support and community connections play a crucial role in the healing process for individuals with PTSD. Connecting with others who have experienced similar traumas can provide validation, understanding, and a sense of belonging. Key features of peer support and community apps for PTSD include private messaging capabilities, group discussions, and access to professional advice or resources. Their examples include:

  • PTSD Support (iOS, Android): The app offers a community-driven platform where individuals can connect with others who have experienced trauma. It provides private messaging, group forums, and a supportive space for sharing experiences and seeking guidance. The app also offers resources such as articles, videos, and self-help tools to assist individuals in managing their symptoms.

  • Trauma Recovery (iOS, Android): It is an app that focuses on providing support and resources for individuals with PTSD. It offers a safe and anonymous space for individuals to connect with peers, engage in group discussions, and share coping strategies. The app also provides access to trauma-informed therapists and resources for professional support.

Safety, Privacy, & App Evaluation

When using PTSD apps or any mental health app, user safety, privacy, and data security should be paramount. To ensure their credibility and effectiveness, individuals should evaluate them based on several factors. Firstly, reading user reviews can provide insights into the app’s usability, features, and overall user satisfaction. Real-life experiences shared by others can offer valuable perspectives on the app’s effectiveness.

Additionally, individuals should look for apps that have research backing or are developed in collaboration with mental health professionals. This indicates that the app’s content and features are based on evidence-based practices and are more likely to be effective in supporting PTSD management.

While apps can be valuable tools for managing PTSD symptoms, it’s important to remember that they are not a substitute for professional mental health care. Individuals should consult with mental health professionals when incorporating apps into their treatment plans. Specialists can provide a comprehensive evaluation of symptoms, diagnose PTSD, and recommend appropriate treatment strategies beyond app usage.


The evolution of mobile technology has opened up new avenues for supporting individuals with PTSD. From symptom tracking to cognitive restructuring, mindfulness practices to virtual reality therapy, the world of PTSD apps offer a variety of resources to help individuals manage their symptoms and foster resilience. By embracing these innovative tools, individuals with PTSD can enhance their healing journey and regain control over their lives, ultimately moving towards a brighter and more fulfilling future.


What tools are used to assess PTSD?

Digital tools are self-report questionnaires, such as the PTSD Checklist (PCL-5), mobile apps, and VR technology. PCL-5 is used to gather data about symptoms and their rigor. Mobile apps have features like mood tracking, stress management tactics, and reminders for therapy. VR technology offers simulations of trauma-related environments, allowing users exposure to controlled triggering scenarios.

Does online therapy work for trauma?

While in-person therapy has traditionally been the preferred method, online one has gained popularity in recent years, especially with advancements in technology. Numerous studies and research suggest that online therapy can be effective for a range of mental health conditions, including trauma. Its effectiveness may vary depending on individual circumstances and preferences.

Can apps replace traditional therapy for PTSD?

While apps can be a valuable complement to traditional therapy for PTSD, they are not typically intended to replace it. PTSD is a complex mental health condition that often requires personalized assessment and treatment from trained healthcare professionals. The apps are best used as adjuncts to it and should not be considered a replacement for comprehensive care provided by specialists.


Mariia Maliuta
Mariia Maliuta (Copywriter) "Woman of the Word" in BeKey; technical translator/interpreter & writer

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