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Breathing retraining: effect on anxiety & depression scores in behavioural breathlessness

  [ 32 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • January 3, 1994

Thirty-six patients underwent assessment of behavioural
breathlessness which included monitoring of breathing patterns
and end tidal CO2 concentration and completion of
questionnaires relating to hyperventilation (HV), anxiety and
depression. Twenty-two patients had a positive assessment and
underwent breathing retraining. Assessments were repeated
immediately after re-training and 2 months later. Ten of the
patients (Group A) had behavioural breathlessness either as
the primary problem or secondary to an established clinical
condition, and twelve (Group B) in association with chronic
fatigue. Before re-training, resting end-tidal PCO2 was
significantly lower in Group A than Group B (p < 0.05), but
there was no significant difference in mean scores for
HV-related symptoms, anxiety or depression. Following
breathing retraining, both groups showed improvements in
breathing patterns, end tidal CO2 levels and scores for
HV-related symptoms which were sustained. In Group A the mean
score for anxiety decreased (p < 0.01) and the score for
depression was significantly lower than in Group B (p < 0.05).
Although mean scores for anxiety and depression in Group B did
not change significantly, some individuals in the group did
show sustained improvement. There was no improvement in
symptoms associated with chronic fatigue in Group B.
In behavioural breathlessness, breathing retraining is of
benefit, not only in restoring more normal patterns of
breathing but also in reducing anxiety, particularly in
patients without the complication of chronic fatigue.

Tweeddale PM, Rowbottom I, McHardy GJ

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