Self-Regulation of Breathing as a Primary Treatment for Anxiety

Abstract

Understanding the autonomic nervous system and homeostatic changes associated with emotions remains a major challenge for neuroscientists and a fundamental prerequisite to treat anxiety, stress, and emotional disorders. Based on recent publications, the inter-relationship between respiration and emotions and the influence of respiration on autonomic changes, and subsequent widespread membrane potential changes resulting from changes in homeostasis are discussed. We hypothesize that reversing homeostatic alterations with meditation and breathing techniques rather than targeting neurotransmitters with medication may be a superior method to address the whole body changes that occur in stress, anxiety, and depression. Detrimental effects of stress, negative emotions, and sympathetic dominance of the autonomic nervous system have been shown to be counteracted by different forms of meditation, relaxation, and breathing techniques. We propose that these breathing techniques could be used as first-line and supplemental treatments for stress, anxiety, depression, and some emotional disorders.

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Correspondence to Ravinder Jerath.

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Jerath, R., Crawford, M.W., Barnes, V.A. et al. Self-Regulation of Breathing as a Primary Treatment for Anxiety. Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback 40, 107–115 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10484-015-9279-8

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Keywords

  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Slow deep breathing
  • Membrane potential