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real panic / real calm
drafting a controversial panic attack app

User:    Why is my heart beating so fast?
me:        You seem scared.
User:    Yes! How can I make it stop?

me:        You’re already calming down.

Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder where you regularly have sudden attacks of panic or fear.

But for an individual suffering panic disorder, feelings of anxiety, stress and panic occur regularly and at any time, often for no apparent reason.

Sudden changes of hear rate (arrhytmia) can be misinterpreted as the beginning of a panic attack.

During an anxiety attacks I would sometimes look at a gif on my phone of a ball expanding and contracting to help me focus on breathing. It would subsequently  calm me down.

During an episode I would monitor my HR attentively. Increases in heart rate would exerbate my the fear. I would fear the anticipation of an episode,  the experiencing of a panic attack. My HR would peak.

In a moment of panic I am unable to think. Most methods to calm myself down would fail. I wouldn’t even notice the people around me who try to help me. Even worse: I would be ashamed of my panic and the fear of embarressment would join the situation. 

What if I had an mobile application that helped me through one of these episodes? I would give me feedback over my physical current state with a fitness tracker or HR sensor. I was hoping for an app which would tell me that my HR is decreasing because these instruments don’t lie. Do they? Anyway, it would subsequently calm me down.

Only that I don’t know if the device is working accurately or lying to me.  I might experience a placebo effect. How is it different to a carer telling me that everything is going to be okay again

app   mockup

keywords: app development, digital health, meditation, mindfulness, panic disorder