New breathing therapy reduces panic and anxiety

Last Updated: Tue, Dec 21, 2010 11:00 hrs

Scientists have demonstrated that a new breathing therapy reduces panic and anxiety by reversing hyperventilation.

The new treatment program teaches people who suffer from panic disorder how to reduce the terrorizing symptoms by normalizing their breathing.

According to a new study, the method has proved better than traditional cognitive therapy at reducing both symptoms of panic and hyperventilation.

The biological-behavioral treatment program is called Capnometry-Assisted Respiratory Training, or CART, said Alicia E. Meuret, one of the researchers at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

CART helps patients learn to breathe in such a way as to reverse hyperventilation, a highly uncomfortable state where the blood stream operates with abnormally low levels of carbon dioxide, said Meuret.

In the CART-CT study, 41 patients were assigned to complete either a CART or CT treatment program for panic disorder and agoraphobia, a fear of being trapped with no means of escape or help.

Traditional CT teaches patients techniques aimed at helping them change and reverse catastrophic thoughts in order to reduce fear and panic.

Both treatment programs were equally effective in reducing symptoms, said Meuret.

But CART was the only treatment to physiologically alter panic symptoms by actively reversing hyperventilation in the patients. Cognitive therapy didn't change the respiratory physiology, said Meuret.

The findings appeared in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. (ANI)