AAPB Report on the Clinical Efficacy of Biofeedback
General biofeedback including EMG, GSR, thermal, or EEG are equivalent to progressive relaxation or meditation effects. Anxiety is often said to be a disorder of attention and cognition (AAPB Biofeedback Efficacy, 2004). More specifically, biofeedback is most effective when applied in the same modality as the disorder (autonomic feedback for ANS disorders, EMG feedback for muscular, etc.) (Lehrer, Carr, Sargunaraj, and Woolfolk, 1994).
Self-relaxation uses conscious intent to calm oneself. For anxiety, it doesn’t matter which modality is used since the central component is the cognitive-based conscious intention.
Hurley and Meminger (1992) demonstrate efficacy in reducing anxiety using frontal EMG biofeedback with 40 subjects trained to criterion and assessed anxiety over time using the State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI). State anxiety improved more than trait anxiety.
Wenck, Leu, and D’Amato (1996) trained 150 7th and 8th grade students with thermal and EMG feedback and also achieved a significant reduction in state and trait anxiety.
Scandrett, Bean, Breeden, & Powell (1986) found some advantage of progressive muscle relaxation over EMG biofeedback in reducing anxiety in adult psychiatric inpatients and outpatients. On the other hand, Roome and Romney (1985) compared progressive muscle relaxation to EMG biofeedback training with 30 children and found an advantage for biofeedback. Thus, combining EMG biofeedback with progressive muscle relaxation may induce even greater effects.
Vanathy, Sharma, and Kumar (1998) applied EEG biofeedback to generalized anxiety disorder andcompared increased alpha with increased theta. The two procedures were both effective in decreasing symptoms.
A reduction in generalized anxiety has been demonstrated using frontal EMG biofeedback, a pseudo-meditation condition, and a wait-list control. All treatment groups had comparable and significant decreases in the STAI as well as drops in Psychosomatic Symptom Checklist. Similar results were obtained by Sarkar, Rathee, and Neera (1999) by comparing the generalized anxiety disorder response to pharmacotherapy and to biofeedback; the two treatments had similar effects on symptom reduction. Hawkins, Doell, Lindseth, Jeffers, and Skaggs (1980), concluded from 40 hospitalized schizophrenics that thermal biofeedback and relaxation instructions had equivalent effect on anxiety reduction. However, Fehring (1983) found that adding GSR biofeedback to a Benson-type relaxation technique reduced anxiety symptoms more than relaxation alone. This is why ADNC integrates all forms of biofeedback with established relaxation and therapeutic approaches.
Living with Anxiety- Strategies
Living with anxiety is not a death sentence. Simple strategies can be put in place to help people deal with feelings of anxiety.
Focus on your breath, not the anxiety, and breathe slowly and deeply from the abdomen.
Be aware of yourself:
Is what you’re saying to yourself calming you down or making you feel more anxious? Try saying soothing things to yourself.
Do something else:
Shift your focus away from the anxiety. Try going for a walk or doing a task that takes up your attention.
Stay in the present:
Don’t worry about predicting outcomes, let the future work itself out.
Lighten up on perfectionism:
Accept your limitations and don’t needlessly pressure yourself.
Answer the what-ifs:
So what if you make a fool of yourself? The likely outcome is far less dire than the imagined disaster.
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