The association between anxiety and breathlessness is well documented. Indeed some studies have been conducted which highlight the activation of the amygdala, part of the limbic system which plays a key role in the processing of emotions, in inducing breathlessness in healthy individuals, indicating this link. There is no substantial evidence to recommend a definitive intervention for anxiety management for the breathless patient and much of the research to date calls for further, more robust investigation in to interventions which aim to reduce anxiety related to breathlessness. However, there is an increasing body of evidence to suggest that anxiety management techniques such as relaxation, mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help with managing symptoms such as pain, stress and anxiety. Booth et al (2011) found that although anxiety management is frequently used with breathless patients, there is a need for definition and further research. Bauswein et al (2008) also found insufficient data to analyse these interventions specifically for breathlessness. Studies are often small with limited numbers thus making it difficult to draw any conclusions from the research. However, complex interventions aimed to improve multiple symptoms, including breathlessness, such as pulmonary rehabilitation programmes or a multi-disciplinary team intervention for breathlessness, which incorporate a large element of anxiety management techniques such as relaxation, breathing control, challenging unhelpful thoughts and realistic goal setting, have strong evidence to support their effectiveness.
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