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.
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
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.
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!
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