Breathing training for treating panic disorder. Useful intervention or impediment?

Behav Modif. 2003 Oct;27(5):731-54. doi: 10.1177/0145445503256324.


Breathing training (BT) is commonly used for treatment of panic disorder. We identified nine studies that reported the outcome of BT. Overall, the published studies of BT are not sufficiently compelling to allow an unequivocal judgment of whether such techniques are beneficial. This article discusses problems with the underlying rationale, study design, and techniques used in BT, and it identifies factors that may have determined therapy outcomes. The idea that hypocapnia and respiratory irregularities are underlying factors in the development of panic implies that these factors should be monitored physiologically throughout therapy. Techniques taught in BT must take account of respiration rate and tidal volume in the regulation of blood gases (pCO2). More studies are needed that are designed to measure the efficacy of BT using an adequate rationale and methodology. Claims that BT should be rejected in favor of cognitive or other forms of intervention are premature.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breathing Exercises*
  • Humans
  • Panic Disorder / psychology
  • Panic Disorder / therapy*