The Playlab in London designed a groundbreaking health app that helps combat the effects of a panic attack in anxiety sufferers. The game uses a practice called breathing retraining to calm an anxiety sufferer during an episode of hyperventilation, a common symptom of panic. This technique works by both slowing the breath and relaxing the body.
Anxiety comes in many forms and affects a large population in every region of the world. Anxiety affects a sufferer physically as well as mentally. Some physical symptoms, especially during a panic attack, include shortness of breath, shaking, nausea, headache, rapid heartbeat, dizzy spells, and more. While it is sometimes treated or controlled successfully with therapy and medication, the stress of dealing with the struggles of anxiety can be daunting.
Flowy, is a free smartphone app that combines a simple game and breathing retraining to break the sufferers attention away from the source of panic while calming the body. The technique has very few side effects because no pharmaceuticals are used. It is described as a controlled respiration technique: “This breathing pattern is reflected in our Flowy breathing indicator. In many breathing retraining sessions, the exhalation is longer than the inhalation to relax the patient,” reads the app’s website.
Speaking to The Memo, Flowy’s founder Simon Fox said he felt his life had fallen apart when he developed a panic disorder as a child. “Flowy helps you to perform mindful breathing while you play a game,” explained Fox. “It’s most effectively used for about 5 minutes at least once a day, but many people find it really powerful right as they’re having a panic attack.”
In the future, Fox hopes the app will be used to connect mental health sufferers to health professionals and provide self-tracking and cognitive therapy features.
The app is not intended as a replacement for psychological advice, therapy or medication.