Free program can help reduce anxiety
Worried brains can be retrained to respond to everyday situations in a less threatening way to reduce anxiety levels, according to new research from the Universities of Western Australia and Virginia.
The study, published in Behaviour Research and Therapy, reported on the effectiveness of a free online intervention program for anxiety and declared it successful at reducing anxiety.
The program was based on research showing that anxious individuals tended to interpret upcoming situations in a threatening manner, and that modifying this could reduce anxiety.
Forrest Fellow Dr Julie Ji, from UWA’s school of psychological science, said the study showed six sessions of the computerised online intervention program, which repeatedly challenged their threatening interpretations and replaced them with less catastrophic ones, could successfully modify anxious peoples’ habit of expecting the worst.
“This research is particularly important right now because most of the world has been operating under highly stressful and anxiety-provoking conditions for almost a year-and-a-half now,” Dr Ji said.
“Our study provides key evidence that it is possible to provide freely accessible, digital interventions that can help us change the thinking patterns that keep our minds and bodies in states of anxious arousal.”
The team carried out the study with 807 highly anxious participants worldwide and randomly assigned them to three groups to receive either positive training interpretations, balanced positive and negative interpretations, or no training control.
Dr Ji said that for most people suffering from anxiety, having free online interventions that can help them cope better with everyday life can make a big difference.
The training program is part of a larger research project and is available at mindtrails.virginia.edu.