How Can We Leverage Common Wearable Biometric Devices to Help Combat Anxiety?

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What is the Problem?

Anxiety runs rampant throughout the world. In the U.S alone, roughly 40 million people suffer from anxiety. It is the most common mental health disorder in the world with 1 in 13 people having it. But, what does it mean to have an anxiety disorder? Like all illnesses, there are different levels of anxiety and it manifests itself in each person differently. According to WHO and the CDC, the most common symptoms are worrying, panic attacks, fidgeting, impending sense of doom, difficulty focusing, and sweating. These symptoms can range in severity and frequency, but almost all people who suffer from anxiety disorders note experiencing them. Often, but not always, these symptoms are induced by some event or situation that causes a major spike in stress. When experiencing panic attacks or spikes in anxiety it can be truly overwhelming, and currently, there are no in-the-moment solutions.

Pre-Existing Solutions


Currently, there are no in-the-moment solutions for panic attacks and spikes of anxiety. The most popular solutions for anxiety disorders are cognitive-behavioral therapy and medication. Both of these methods, while being somewhat effective, are passive ways of combating anxiety. Therapy typically happens weekly and provides patients with methods and practices to try and ease their disorder, but does not truly solve the problem. Medication takes weeks to months to begin being effective, and frequently it takes two or three trials before finding a medication that works. There are existing tools to help anxiety, but there are no true solutions.

My Proposed Answer

Sources: Apple.com, Fitbit.com

Wearable biometric devices are everywhere nowadays. Walking down the street you will likely see many people sporting their apple watches or Fitbits. My idea is to utilize the heart rate monitor and activity tracker embedded in these devices to detect oncoming panic attacks and warn the user. One common symptom of panic attacks is an increased heart rate, so by using a simple machine learning algorithm, my proposed app would be able to develop a baseline for what the user’s typical heart rate is, and then when it begins to become abnormal it would vibrate and alert the user. In my discussions with people with anxiety, they describe that the most helpful thing when experiencing a panic attack is recognizing that it is coming. By alerting the user, they would have time to remove themselves from the stressful environment and ease and even prevent a full-on panic attack from occurring. 

My idea is to develop the app further so users could get in contact immediately with therapists and trained professionals to further help ease the situation. Instead of having to wait for your weekly appointment, you could talk with a professional whenever you need. My app is not intended to replace the existing solutions to anxiety, but rather complement and elevate them.

Business Model and Profitability

There is a massive market for anxiety solutions and relievers. In the U.S. alone, more than 42 billion dollars is spent on anxiety disorders per year. Most of this money is spent on repeated visits to doctors and therapists.  The hope is that this service will make anxiety more affordable for people in need who cannot afford expensive options like therapy and medication. As the business model canvas shows, this service would not be expensive or difficult to run and would provide limitless help to those suffering from anxiety and panic disorders.

My Buissiness Model Canvas

Conclusion

Anxiety affects millions of people, and currently, there are no in-the-moment solutions. Therapy and medication, while effective, are too passive for the stresses people face every day. By leveraging the rising popularity of wearable biometric devices such as Apple watches, Fitbits, and other fitness trackers, we can perhaps finally combat panic attacks. Having anxiety is not easy, but perhaps you won’t have to struggle for much longer. 

Call to Action


Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions or critiques of this idea; I’m flexible and want to hear your brilliant thoughts!

Also, if you would prefer to respond anonymously to some aspect of my project, use this form.

And, most importantly, be kind and supportive to the people around you, whether they have anxiety or not. Creating a more welcoming and accepting society is the best way to combat stress and anxiety!

Sources

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6 Comments

6 comments

  1. Jared_489

    Hi Charlie! I think this is a really awesome idea and an effective way to use our technology more efficiently and for the better, especially since the data is already at our disposal. I was surprised to hear how much money the US spends on anxiety disorders per year – what services does that include? Back to the topic of your idea itself, I like the idea of having trained professionals on-call right away. Do you envision this app partnering with separate practices in order to get trained professionals or maybe working with volunteers, like 7cups, or even hiring its own staff of professionals? Awesome job with your page and idea 🙂

    1. Charles_367

      Dear Jared, thank you for your kind words and thoughtful questions. To answer your first question about what the money is being spent on, the high cost mostly comes from therapy and medication. With therapy typically occuring weekly, the price very quickly becomes expensive. As for your thought on the partnership, I think that is a terrific idea to partner with external services and then perhaps after establishing the company developing internal therapists.

  2. Julia

    Hi Charlie! I think that this is an amazing idea which I hope is implemented one day. I believe that with all of the advancements within technology there should also be advancements within educating and helping those who suffer with anxiety and other mental illnesses. Unfortunately, this is not the case and the stigma surrounding mental health is still present. I believe that your idea is what we truly need in the world to help and educate those struggling. Great job!!

    1. Charles_367

      Thank you Julia! I agree, although we are making leaps and bounds on the frontier of mental health, the largest issue is still the stigma surrounding it. Having anxiety or any other mental health disorder is isolating enough, but when you add the shame and reputation on top it can be overwhelming. I had this idea because I wanted to help those dealing with anxiety, but I truly believe the most effective way would be to decrease the animosity towards those afflicted with these disorders.

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    Great job!

  4. Cooper

    Hi Charles! I really think that this is an incredible project idea as to me, as talked about as anxiety is, no one really addresses how to deal with it. With the widespread use of things like fitbits and apple watches, I think your idea is an amazing step in the right direction.

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