Breathing practices for treatment of psychiatric and stress-related medical conditions

Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2013 Mar;36(1):121-40. doi: 10.1016/j.psc.2013.01.001.


Neurophysiological studies may explain how breathing techniques normalize stress response, emotion regulation, and autonomic and neuroendocrine system function. Breath practices have been shown to reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, mass disasters, depression, and attention deficit disorder. Technology-assisted breathing interventions facilitate therapeutic breathing by using either static cues such as a breath pacer or real-time feedback based on physiological parameters such as heart rate variability. The empirical literature indicates that technology-assisted breathing can be beneficial in mental health treatment, though it may not be appropriate for all individuals. Initial in-person training and evaluation can improve results.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breathing Exercises* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Self-Help Devices
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*