Anxiety, stress and depression all may have a deep impact on our lives, but they are often not taken seriously enough. These conditions can interfere with our daily activities, and become so severe, disabling individuals from leading normal lives.
People with depression or anxiety disorders rarely seek for help most likely due to shame, lack of money, availability of treatment, or support from their families and friends. Many choose to keep suffering quietly, although it could have a devastating effect on their health and life.
Mood disorders, including stress, anxiety, and depression are caused by an ongoing cycle of negative thoughts. Breaking this cycle using various tools, including relaxation techniques for anxiety may help people learn how to manage stress, anxiety, and depression efficiently.
Many of these tools are available as smartphone applications that people who suffer from depression, anxiety or stress can use at their own convenience and their own pace.
Here, on SteadyHealth we already reviewed a couple of mobile apps that tackle this serious problem, including Self-help Anxiety Management app, a self-help guide for managing anxiety, or MindShift app, a tool based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
The app we review today also uses the principles of Cognitive Behavior Therapy, as well as mindfulness to help users cope with daily stress, anxiety, and depression.
Pacifica is an app designed for iPhone and Android users, providing them with various tools designed by psychologists and based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, mindfulness meditation, and relaxation. Pacifica app also works as a tracker/diary app enabling users to track their daily mood and health.
The app requires users to register an account. While it's initially free to download and use its basic features, it requires users to purchase Pacifica Premium at the price of $5.99 a month, or $35.99 annually, if they want to use all tools without limitations.
After creating an account, Pacifica app will take you through the quick tour, showing its major aspects and features which help users address the causes of these common mental health problems.
The app opens to the main screen titled Your Pacifica, which contains main app features, including Mood, Health, Thoughts, and Goals.
As its name suggests, Mood section help users log and track their mood, which is done in an intuitive manner. Users just need to move their finger around the circle on the screen to set their current mood from available options, ranging from "Great" to "Awful". Users can add the descriptive part to describe their feelings associated with the particular mood, which could contain complex sentences or simple hashtags.
Health section allows users to log their sleep and workout, and to add their daily habits they also want to track. Here you can add habits from the big list, including eating, water, caffeine, family, friends, and so on, or you can add your own habits, if they're not listed. This part can be linked to native Apple Health app, meaning that you can track each habit individually. Once you've added all habits you want to track, you can set the values using sliders.
However, here I've encountered a couple of problems with this part of the app. First, the slider isn't always responsive, meaning it's slow. Second, you can't fine tune the entries. For example, you can only exercise with 5-minute intervals between the entries, meaning you can only set 10, 15, 20 minutes, and so on.
Finally, when adding entries for Eating, there are no any exact values, for example for calories, grams or quantities. You can only set that you've eaten "poor", "okay", "very good", and so on. What does this mean? If you set the entry to "poor", does it mean that you've skipped the breakfast, or you've eaten too many fats and calories?
Pacifica app lets users set reminders for each of the habits. This can be set individually, meaning that you can set reminders for water intake, but skip notifications about exercise.
Thoughts section allows users to record thoughts associated with their current mood and then to examine and challenge these thoughts in a self-directed manner, not by examining a list of automatic thought patterns, as the common practice in other CBT programs is.
Goals section lets you set your long-term goals and daily challenges that involve various aspects of your life, including Work and School, Friends and Family, Speaking and Performing, Transportation, and so on. This could be anything from calling your friend, ordering dinner, to saying hello to random strangers, basically anything that would lessen the anxiety and help you feeling better about yourself.
When setting the goals, you will also have to decide on expected difficulty level for each goal on a 1-10 scale. Later, when the goal completed, you will have to add it again, to indicate how difficult it really was (more or less than you expected).
Besides CBT principles, Pacifica app also uses mindfulness meditation and relaxing methods available in the Relax section. However, only a portion of these exercises is available in the free version of the app, while most of them require a premium subscription.
Pacifica users can also participate in discussions within Community section that features community posts and groups where users can invite people to join in a confidential way because getting support from friends and family is essential when people fighting anxiety and depression.
It should be noted that Pacifica app has not been studied in clinical trials or compared to other similar apps using CBT approach. Also, some traditional CBT elements of this app are not as structured as in other apps that use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy approach.
Still, Pacifica app could be a very useful addition to therapy that can be effectively and easily incorporated into a daily routine for anyone who needs a way to manage stress and anxiety through their life.
Benefit: Anyone who needs a tool that uses CBT approach in combating stress and anxiety.