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We had a chance to interview the founders of Quirk, Koby and Evan Conrad for attempting to revolutionize how people suffering panic attacks, anxiety, or depression receive treatment. Quirk costs $6/month for app users.
Behavioral therapy is an umbrella term for types of therapy that treat mental health disorders. This form of therapy seeks to identify and help change potentially self-destructive or unhealthy behaviors. It functions on the idea that all behaviors are learned and that unhealthy behaviors can be changed. The focus of treatment is often on current problems and how to change them.
In short, Quirk, is a YC-backed company, that’s sole mission is to bring cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to everyone suffering from anxiety or depression.
CBT aims to lessen or stop harmful behavior by changing the way people think, stopping them from falling into established patterns of negatively distorting their reality to justify or account for unhelpful habits.
“CBT has 40 years of research behind it,” says Co-Founder Evan Conrad. “I’ve had severe panic attacks my whole life and saw different therapists who tried what I now know is CBT. I assumed it was a pseudo-science. It wasn’t until 10 months ago that I re-discovered CBT on my own and learned about its efficacy. It’s the gold standard.”
Here is how Quirk works to beat panic attacks:
Users jump into the app whenever they have anxiety or a depressive thought to record it. They then identify any distortions that apply to that thought, such as Catastrophizing, Magnification of the Negative, Fortune Telling or Over-Generalization, among others. From there, the user can challenge the thought with reasons why that thought might have been illogical to begin with. Finally, the user replaces the thought with something more reasonable.
“For example, if I was worried about not getting a response to a text, I might believe (irrationally) that it has something to do with how that person feels about me, rather than the more obvious explanation: they’re just busy.”
The hope of CBT is that identifying thought distortions and manually replacing them with beliefs grounded in reality retrains the brain to experience the world in a realistic way and relieves patients from their depression and/or anxiety.
Conrad says that he went from having two anxiety attacks a week to two every six months.
The problem that Quirk is trying to solve is two-fold. First, people may not know the benefits or the empirical data supporting CBT. Second, the process of manually recording this on pen and paper can be more tedious and feel less private out in a public space.
Quirk’s attempt to solve these problems is to make CBT accessible to more people and to make the process of doing CBT slightly more private.
Conrad says that he hopes Quirk can be a jumping off point for folks suffering from anxiety and depression, with the app suggesting that those suffering seek professional help in conjunction with using the app. He also shared that Quirk hopes to be able to connect users to professionals in their area as soon as they have the scale to do so.
Quirk costs $6/month for users.