Exploring the Effectiveness of a Computer-Based Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback Program in Reducing Anxiety in College Students

Graduate Psychology, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA, USA.
Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (Impact Factor: 1.13). 06/2011; 36(2):101-12. DOI: 10.1007/s10484-011-9151-4
Source: PubMed


Given the pervasiveness of stress and anxiety in our culture it is important to develop and implement interventions that can be easily utilized by large numbers of people that are readily available, inexpensive and have minimal side effects. Two studies explored the effectiveness of a computer-based heart rate variability biofeedback program on reducing anxiety and negative mood in college students. A pilot project (n = 9) of highly anxious students revealed sizable decreases in anxiety and negative mood following utilizing the program for 4 weeks. A second study (n = 35) employing an immediate versus delayed treatment design replicated the results, although the magnitude of the impact was not quite as strong. Despite observing decreases in anxiety, the expected changes in psychophysiological coherence were not observed.

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Available from: Gregg Henriques, May 06, 2014
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    • "A previous study in Thailand found biofeedback intervention to be effective in reducing anxiety and managing stress among undergraduate nursing students [14]. Biofeedback intervention was also found to be effective in helping other university students in other countries with their mental health issues [15] [16]. No previous biofeedback study has been done among university students regarding depression, even though there is a high cooccurrence rate for anxiety and depression. "
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    ABSTRACT: Globally, graduate students have been found to have high prevalence of mental health problems. With increasing severity of mental health problems on university campuses and limited resources for mental health treatment, alternative interventions are needed. This study investigated the use of biofeedback training to help reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. A sample of 60 graduate students in public health nursing was randomly assigned to either the biofeedback intervention or the control group. Results indicated that biofeedback intervention was effective in significantly reducing the levels of stress, anxiety, and depression over the 4-week period, while the control group had increases in symptoms of anxiety and depression over the same timeframe. As future leaders in the public health nursing arena, the more psychologically healthy the graduate students in public health nursing are, the better the public health nursing professionals they will be as they go forth to serve the community after graduation.
    05/2015; 2015:160746. DOI:10.1155/2015/160746
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    • "Also, in certain professions, in order to handle some difficult and complex situations, biofeedback, through the control of heart rate variability, also helps to improve work conditions (Chandler, Bodenhamer-Davis, Holden, Evenson, & Bratton, 2001; Cutshall et al., 2011). Various computer programs have proven to be effective in cardiac coherence management (Edwards, 2014; Henriques, Keffer, Abrahamson, & Horst, 2011), but present technical devices tend to be expensive and not easily accessible. "
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    ABSTRACT: Stress is considered to be an individual’s response to different pressures and demands in a particular environment (Pottier et al., 2011). In an ever more demanding and stressful world, many options for people to learn how to relax and how to deal with a challenging lifestyle are becoming available. O.zen is a great alternative, since it is a ludic and not expensive device, which goal is to help people to relax with the help of breathing games that can easily be accomplished no matter what time of the day or context. The goal of this study was to test O.zen’s efficiency. In order to do so, neuropsychological tests were held throughout the experiment to 28 participants that were divided in experimental (played O.zen) and control (watched videos equivalent to O.zen) groups. Also, cortisol levels and participants’ skin conductance was measured. Both groups showed overall improvements, with participants feeling significantly less anxious after playing O.zen, and showing a lower level of skin conductance. O.zen’s visuals and music seem to be beneficial on their own, with its biofeedback quality emphasizing the gains.
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    • "Several studies have reported that HRVB might be effective in reducing symptoms of depression and/or anxiety (Karavidas et al., 2007; Reiner, 2008; Siepmann et al., 2008; McCraty et al., 2009; Nada, 2009; Zucker et al., 2009; Henriques et al., 2011; Tan et al., 2011; Patron et al., 2013). These results led to speculation that some other mechanism might be at work beyond the baroreflex gains. "
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    ABSTRACT: In recent years there has been substantial support for heart rate variability biofeedback (HRVB) as a treatment for a variety of disorders and for performance enhancement (Gevirtz, 2013). Since conditions as widely varied as asthma and depression seem to respond to this form of cardiorespiratory feedback training, the issue of possible mechanisms becomes more salient. The most supported possible mechanism is the strengthening of homeostasis in the baroreceptor (Vaschillo et al., 2002; Lehrer et al., 2003). Recently, the effect on the vagal afferent pathway to the frontal cortical areas has been proposed. In this article, we review these and other possible mechanisms that might explain the positive effects of HRVB.
    Frontiers in Psychology 07/2014; 5:756. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00756 · 2.80 Impact Factor
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