Emotionally triggered asthma: a review of research literature and some hypotheses for self-regulation therapies

Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 1998 Mar;23(1):13-41. doi: 10.1023/a:1022170028979.


Asthma is a common disease whose morbidity and mortality are rapidly increasing. Panic disorder is common in asthma. Panic, other negative emotions, and a passive coping orientation may affect asthma by producing hyperventilation, increased general autonomic lability, a specific pattern of autonomic arousal that may cause bronchoconstriction, and/or detrimental effects on health care behaviors. Generalized panic is a risk factor for increased asthma morbidity. A repressive coping style also appears to be a risk factor for asthma morbidity because it is accompanied by an impaired ability to perceive symptoms, a necessary prerequisite for taking appropriate remediation. Several self-regulation strategies are hypothesized to be useful adjuncts to asthma treatment. Preliminary research has been done on relaxation therapy, EMG biofeedback, biofeedback for improved sensitivity in perceiving respiratory sensations, and biofeedback training for increasing respiratory sinus arrhythmia. It is hypothesized that finger temperature biofeedback also may be a promising treatment method, and that relaxation-oriented methods will have their greatest effect among asthmatics who experience panic symptoms, while improved perceptual sensitivity will be helpful both for patients who panic and those with repressive coping styles.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / etiology*
  • Asthma / therapy
  • Humans
  • Panic*
  • Relaxation Therapy*
  • Stress, Physiological*