What is Freespira?
Freespira is an FDA-cleared, drug-free, four-week at-home treatment for panic attacks. Freespira teaches you how to normalize your breathing pattern, reducing or eliminating panic attacks or other symptoms of panic disorder. Freespira can benefit patients who have panic attacks that occur with anxiety disorders such as PTSD, General Anxiety Disorder and Specific Phobias.
How does Freespira work?
Freespira works by training you to control your breathing rate and exhaled carbon dioxide level, which stabilizes your breathing pattern and helps to eliminate or reduce panic attacks.
Once trained by your provider or Freespira Care Coordinator, simply take Freespira home and complete two 17-minute breathing sessions per day, once in the morning and once at night. During each session, the sensor samples and analyzes your respiratory rate and exhaled carbon dioxide level through a small nasal cannula, then sends this information by Bluetooth to the tablet. The Protocol (App) provides audio and visual feedback to guide you in adjusting your breathing to normalize your breathing pattern. Completed sessions are automatically uploaded to a secure server, using an ID number and not your name to ensure privacy. Your provider or Freespira Care Coordinator can remotely view sessions and provide coaching.
What’s included with Freespira?
Freespira includes a nasal cannula, tablet with Freespira software and a custom handheld sensor that measures your breathing rate and the exhaled carbon dioxide levels with every breath. After you complete your treatment at week five simply return Freespira in the enclosed postage-paid envelope or return to your provider.
Do I need a prescription from my doctor to use Freespira?
A prescription from a physician is not required. An authorization from a licensed healthcare provider is all that’s needed.
Is Freespira covered by insurance?
We are working with insurance companies to make Freespira available, however it is not currently covered by the majority of health plans. The cost of Freespira can also be paid from a Health Savings Account (HSA), Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA).
Is Freespira an option even if I am on medication?
Yes. Freespira can be used as a standalone treatment or in conjunction with other treatments such as medications, or psychotherapy as recommended by your healthcare provider.
What is a typical course of treatment when using Freespira?
Freespira is done twice daily for 17-minutes per session for 4 weeks, after which time the treatment is complete. You will meet with your therapist or Freespira Care Coordinator for initial training and meet against with your provider at week five for assessment.
Is Freespira safe?
Freespira is clinically proven as a safe and effective treatment in multiple clinical trials. There have been no serious adverse events reported.
How long does Freespira last?
The results from multiple studies and clinical trials are consistent. In a recent study, 85% of participants were panic attack free immediately post-treatment and 80% were panic attack free 12 months post-treatment. We’re also very proud that our patient satisfaction rating is consistently over 90% with very successful adherence ratings of 85%.
How is Freespira different from a breathing app?
Freespira changes the body chemistry to correct abnormal respiratory physiology. Apps cannot do that. An app can only provide paced breathing to help slow your breathing down. An app cannot measure, nor show you how to reduce, the volume of air you are breathing in. People with panic chronically hyperventilate not just when having a panic attack. They take in too much air (volume) and breathe too fast. The only way to correct this is to train the individual to breathe more slowly, stabilize their respiratory rate and take in less air to increase their exhaled carbon dioxide levels for the long-term.
How long has Freespira been available?
Freespira was cleared by the FDA for the treatment of panic disorder, panic attacks and the symptoms of panic in 2013. Interest in treating respiratory dysfunction related to panic started in the 1990’s as evidence began showing that individuals suffering from panic attacks were chronically hyperventilating, not just when they were having a panic attack. This led researchers to study whether correcting chronic hyperventilation by training patients to normalize their exhaled carbon dioxide (CO2) level and respiratory rate (RR) would provide therapeutic value in reducing or eliminating panic attacks.
The first clinical studies using the Freespira protocol were conducted in the early 2000’s. A controlled study from Stanford University was published in 2008 and since then subsequent clinical trials and experience in commercial use have further confirmed the therapeutic value of Freespira for treating panic by normalizing respiratory rate and exhaled carbon dioxide.
Who is Palo Alto Health Sciences?
Palo Alto Health Sciences is a health technology company dedicated to treating mental health conditions with evidence-based, non-invasive and drug-free solutions. Freespira is our first product.
Why is panic expensive – why focus on panic?
Panic is more prevalent than you may think and it is also expensive. Every year, 27M+ Americans experience panic attacks related to anxiety disorders. (~1 in 10 American adults.) and the typical age of diagnosis is 25 years old. Panic is also a commonly comorbid with other chronic conditions like asthma, depression, diabetes, migraines and IBS complicating these chronic conditions, worsening symptoms, increasing medical spending and further decreasing quality-of-life.
Since the common physical symptoms of panic attacks are shortness of breath, dizziness, palpitations, nausea, and/or abdominal distress accompanied by acute fear, a common reaction is to self-diagnose a medical emergency (heart attack, stroke or neurological event) and seek treatment. This leads to, for example, 25% of patients presenting to an emergency room with chest pain that were later diagnosed to have panic disorder. Panic patients, on average also have 6-10 PCP visits a year, far greater than non-panic patients.
Can individuals purchase Freespira directly if it’s not covered by their insurance?
Freespira requires authorization by a licensed healthcare provider – not a prescription. Anyone interested in Freespira should contact PAHS at (800) 735-8995 Or submit an online request at www.freespira.com and a Freespira specialist will refer you to a therapist or Freespira Care Coordinator.
Once the provider determines that Freespira is a good fit, he or she will send in the authorization to PAHS. Freespira will then be shipped to the patient or their provider so the patient can be trained. Once the patient is trained by their therapist or Freespira Care Coordinator and the 4-week treatment is completed, the system is returned using the pre-paid shipping label.