Brain Facts

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Relaxation Training and Related Therapies

Relaxation Training. Relaxation techniques use muscle relaxation and mental visualization to help focus attention towards a calming feeling. Some people find meditation helpful.

Breathing Retraining. Breathing retraining techniques may help reduce the physical effects of anxiety. For example, hyperventilation is one of the primary physical manifestations of panic disorders. This involves rapid, tense breathing, resulting in chest pain, dizziness, tingling of the mouth and fingers, muscle cramps, and even fainting. By practicing measured, controlled breathing at the onset of a panic attack, patients may be able to prevent full attacks.

Biofeedback. Biofeedback uses special sensors that allow patients to recognize anxiety states by changes in specific physical functions, such as changes in pulse rate, skin temperatures, and muscle tone. Eventually they learn to modify these changes, which in turn helps relieve anxiety. While commonly used, there are not many rigorous studies showing that biofeedback helps patients reduce or eliminate their symptoms over the long term.

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