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Effects of paced respiration on anxiety reduction in a clinical population

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of paced respiration on autonomic and self-report indices of affect within a clinical population. Thirty-six alcohol-dependent inpatients scoring high in trait anxiety were randomly assigned to either a pacing or attention control group. The paced subjects received 10 minutes of slow-breathing training during the first experimental session, while control subjects simply counted the pacing tones. In a second session, paced subjects were asked to breathe at the same lowered rate (10 cycles per minute) on their own, while the remaining subjects were instructed to relax. Prior to and following each session, self-ratings of tension level and state anxiety were collected. As expected, paced subjects evidenced greater reductions in self-rated tension, state anxiety, and skin conductance levels compared to the control subjects. It was concluded that respiratory pacing is an easily learned self-control strategy and potentially may be a useful therapeutic tool.

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This project was supported by Veterans Administration Medical Health Services Research and Development funds awarded to the first author.

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Clark, M.E., Hirschman, R. Effects of paced respiration on anxiety reduction in a clinical population. Biofeedback and Self-Regulation 15, 273–284 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01011109

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