Research has shown that many people with Panic Disorder (PD) breathe differently than other people; at all times (not just during panic attacks)1,2,3 as indicated by their respiration rates and exhaled CO2 levels (together, their breathing pattern). Based on this research a protocol was developed to teach/train patients with Panic Disorder how to adjust their breathing patterns and exhaled CO2 levels. This protocol was then utilized in clinical trials with Panic Disorder patients at Stanford University and Boston University to be successful in reducing panic symptoms, including panic attacks. Freespira was developed following this work and is now FDA-cleared and commercially available for treating the symptoms of Panic Disorder.
In these clinical trials, patients were provided a CO2 sensor and an audio playback device. The patients were directed to perform two 17-minute directed breathing sessions per day for 28 days in their own home. Working with a therapist, the treatment enabled patients to normalize their breathing patterns – respiratory rate and exhaled CO2 (measured by the sensor). After 4 weeks, all the equipment was returned and the patients were followed for up to a year. The following results were reported after 12 months4,5
Freespira was also studied in a Multi-Center clinical trial with David Tolin, PhD, as the Principal Investigator (clinical sites below). Patients completed the 4 week Freespira treatment and follow up visits which were at 8 weeks, 6 months and 12 months post-treatment. The manuscript has been published in the Journal of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback. Results were the same or better than the prior Stanford and Boston University clinical studies. You may view the paper here.
David Tolin, Ph.D.Director, Anxiety Disorders Center, The Institute of Living, Hartford. Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine. President, Society of Clinical Psychology (Division 12, APA)
Patrick McGrath, Ph.D., Director, Center for Anxiety & OCD Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital (5th largest in US). Hoffman Estates, Il Board member ADAA
Lisa Hale, Ph.D., Founder & Director, Kansas City Center for Anxiety Treatment. Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Missouri, KC
Dan Weiner, PhD San Francisco Bay Area Center for Cognitive Therapy, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley
Please note: The Freespira Breathing System was formerly known as the Canary Breathing System.
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1Bass, C, Lelliott, P, Marks, I (1989). Fear talk versus voluntary hyperventilation in agoraphobics and normal: A controlled study. Psychological Medicine, 19(3), 669-676
2Ley, R (1985) Blood, breath and fears: A hyperventilation theory of panic attacks and agoraphobia. Clinical Psychology Review, 5(4), 271-285.
3Papp, LA, Martinez, JM, Klein, DF et al. (1997). Respiratory psychophysiology of panic disorder: Three respiratory challenges in 98 subjects. American Journal of Psychiatry, 154, 1557-1565.
4Meuret AE, et al. Feedback of end-tidal pCO2 as a therapeutic approach for panic disorder. Journal of Psychiatric Research 2008;42;560-8.
5Meuret AE, et al. Changes in respiration mediate changes in fear of bodily sensations in panic disorder. Journal of Psychiatric Research 2009;43;634-41.