Does biofeedback work for anxiety

Biofeedback - Mayo Clinic


Biofeedback is a technique you can use to learn to control some of your body's functions, such as your heart rate. During biofeedback, you're connected to electrical sensors that help you receive information about your body.

This feedback helps you make subtle changes in your body, such as relaxing certain muscles, to achieve the results you want, such as reducing pain. In essence, biofeedback gives you the ability to practice new ways to control your body, often to improve a health condition or physical performance.

Types of biofeedback

Your therapist might use a variety of biofeedback methods depending on your health problems and goals. Biofeedback types include:

  • Brain waves. This type uses scalp sensors to monitor your brain waves using an electroencephalograph (EEG).
  • Breathing. During respiratory biofeedback, bands are placed around your abdomen and chest to monitor your breathing patterns and respiration rate.
  • Heart rate. This type uses finger or earlobe sensors with a device used to detect blood volume changes (photoplethysmograph). Or sensors placed on your chest, lower torso or wrists use an electrocardiograph (ECG) to measure your heart rate and how your heart rate varies.
  • Muscle contraction. This type involves placing sensors over your skeletal muscles with an electromyograph (EMG) to monitor the electrical activity that causes muscle contraction.
  • Sweat gland activity. Sensors attached around your fingers or on your palm or wrist with an electrodermograph (EDG) measure the activity of your sweat glands and the amount of perspiration on your skin, alerting you to anxiety.
  • Temperature. Sensors attached to your fingers or feet measure blood flow to your skin. Because your temperature often drops when you're under stress, a low reading can prompt you to begin relaxation techniques.

Biofeedback devices

You can receive biofeedback training in physical therapy clinics, medical centers and hospitals. A growing number of biofeedback devices and programs also are being marketed for home use, including:

  • Interactive computer programs or mobile devices. Some types of biofeedback devices measure physiological changes in your body, such as your heart rate activity and skin changes, by using one or more sensors attached to your fingers or your ear. The sensors plug into your computer.

    Using computer graphics and prompts, the devices then help you master stress by helping you to pace your breathing, relax your muscles and think positive self-statements about your ability to cope. Studies show that these types of devices might be effective in improving responses during stress and inducing feelings of calm and well-being.

    Another type of biofeedback therapy involves wearing a headband that monitors your brain activity while you meditate. It uses sounds to let you know when your mind is calm and when it's active to help you learn to control your stress response. The information from each session can be stored on your computer or mobile device so that you can track your progress over time.

  • Wearable devices. One type involves wearing a sensor on your waist that monitors your breathing and tracks your breathing patterns using a downloadable app. The app can alert you if you're having prolonged tension, and it offers guided breathing activities to help restore your calm.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a biofeedback device, Resperate, for reducing stress and lowering blood pressure. Resperate is a portable electronic device that promotes slow, deep breathing.

However, the FDA doesn't regulate many biofeedback devices marketed for home use. Before trying biofeedback therapy at home, discuss the types of devices with your care team to find the best fit.

Be aware that some products might be falsely marketed as biofeedback devices, and that not all biofeedback practitioners are legitimate.

Why it's done

Biofeedback, sometimes called biofeedback training, is used to help manage many physical and mental health issues, including:

  • Anxiety or stress
  • Asthma
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Chemotherapy side effects
  • Chronic pain
  • Constipation
  • Fecal incontinence
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headache
  • High blood pressure
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Raynaud's disease
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Stroke
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
  • Urinary incontinence

Biofeedback appeals to people for a variety of reasons:

  • It's noninvasive.
  • It might reduce or eliminate the need for medications.
  • It might enhance the benefits of medications.
  • It might help women who can't take medication during pregnancy.
  • It helps people feel more in control of their health.

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Biofeedback is generally safe, but it might not be appropriate for everyone. Biofeedback devices might not work properly on people with certain medical conditions, such as heart rhythm problems or certain skin conditions. Be sure to discuss it with your doctor first.

How you prepare

You don't need special preparation for biofeedback.

To find a biofeedback therapist, ask your doctor or another health care professional with knowledge of biofeedback therapy to recommend someone who has experience treating your condition. Many biofeedback practitioners are licensed in another area of health care, such as psychology, nursing or physical therapy.

State laws regulating biofeedback practitioners vary. Some biofeedback practitioners choose to become certified to show their extra training and experience in the practice.

Ask a biofeedback practitioner you're considering using questions before starting treatment, such as:

  • Are you licensed, certified or registered?
  • What is your training and experience?
  • Do you have experience providing biofeedback for my condition?
  • How many biofeedback sessions do you think I'll need?
  • What's the cost and is it covered by health insurance?
  • Can you provide a list of references?

What you can expect

During the procedure

During a biofeedback session, a therapist attaches electrical sensors to different parts of your body. These sensors might be used to monitor your brain waves, skin temperature, muscle tension, heart rate and breathing. This information is fed back to you via cues, such as changes on a monitor, a beeping sound or a flashing light.

The feedback teaches you to change or control your body's reactions by changing your thoughts, emotions or behavior. This can help the condition for which you sought treatment.

For instance, biofeedback can pinpoint tense muscles that are causing headaches. You then learn how to make deliberate physical changes in your body, such as relaxing specific muscles, to reduce your pain. The ultimate goal with biofeedback is to learn to use these techniques at home on your own.

A typical biofeedback session lasts 30 to 60 minutes. The length and number of sessions are determined by your condition and how quickly you learn to control your physical responses. Biofeedback might not be covered by insurance.


If biofeedback is successful for you, it might help you control symptoms of your condition or reduce the amount of medication you take. Eventually, you can practice the biofeedback techniques you learn on your own. Don't stop the medical treatment for your condition, however, without consulting your care team.

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Biofeedback for Anxiety: How It Works

Looking for alternative ways to manage anxiety? Biofeedback may help.

Anxiety is a natural part of the human experience that can keep you “on your toes” during important or stressful situations. For instance, feeling anxious about an upcoming event might help you prepare for or avoid challenges that may arise, resulting in a better outcome.

However, sometimes anxiety can cause challenges in daily functioning, especially if you have an anxiety disorder. Overwhelming fears and worries can impact:

  • mental health
  • physical well-being
  • personal relationships

When anxiety creates challenges in daily life, finding strategies to feel more calm and less overwhelmed might be a priority for you. For some people, biofeedback can be a helpful option.

Biofeedback is a type of therapy that uses monitors and sensors to identify and control your body’s reactions to certain stimuli. It is designed to teach you how to manage your responses to things like stress and pain.

Biofeedback is generally considered safe for most people, with few reported negative side effects.

During a biofeedback session, a trained biofeedback therapist places sensors on your skin that monitor certain bodily functions, such as:

  • heart rate
  • breathing
  • sweat output
  • muscle movements and tension
  • body temperature
  • brain activity

Your biofeedback therapist reads the monitors and interprets how your body reacts to different stimuli. Based on this information, they may suggest ways to help you manage bodily responses using techniques such as:

  • deep breathing
  • guided imagery
  • progressive muscle relaxation

Biofeedback sessions typically last 30-60 minutes, and a number of sessions are needed for biofeedback to be effective. Biofeedback is shown to be especially effective in conjunction with other typical forms of treatment for anxiety, and the number of sessions needed will depend on a variety of factors.

Once you have learned how your body responds to stress and ways to manage it, you will likely be given exercises to practice at home.

Types of biofeedback

Your biofeedback therapist may use one or more of several biofeedback methods available, depending on your wellness goals.

Different types of biofeedback include:

  • Electromyography (EMG): monitors muscle response
  • Respiratory biofeedback: records breathing and respiration rates
  • Heart Rate (HR) biofeedback: registers heart rate, typically through a finger sensor
  • Thermal biofeedback: uses sensors typically applied to your feet or fingers to detect body temperature changes
  • Neurofeedback (EEG): monitors brain activity through sensors placed on your scalp

Biofeedback may be used as an alternative therapy for both physical and mental health issues for people who might not be comfortable using medications or invasive treatment options for certain conditions. It may also be implemented alongside more mainstream treatments.

Biofeedback can be used for many mental and physical health conditions, such as:

  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • anxiety disorders
  • chronic pain
  • insomnia
  • substance use disorders (SUD)
  • high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • asthma

Although research is limited, some studies suggest that biofeedback is effective in reducing anxiety symptoms.

For example, one research review published in 2017 suggests that, compared with no treatment, neurofeedback — which is a type of biofeedback — can improve symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). It also found that supplementing treatment with biofeedback might be more beneficial and result in more rapid treatment gains than treatment without biofeedback.

Another 2017 article suggests that heart rate variability (HRV) biofeedback may reduce self-reported stress and anxiety. Therefore, it may be considered an effective treatment option for people experiencing symptoms of overwhelm and anxiety.

How can biofeedback help manage anxiety?

Biofeedback may offer ways to manage symptoms related to anxiety. For instance, you may not be aware of how your breathing patterns change during anxious moments. Biofeedback can detect those changes, and by practicing breathing exercises that change the pace or depth of your breathing, you may begin to feel less anxious, or feel that your anxiety is more manageable.

In addition, sometimes anxiety may not have an identifiable cause. Anxious feelings can often stem from worrying about an unknown outcome or feeling like you’re not in control of a situation.

Biofeedback may help you identify when you are becoming anxious, which can lead to a better understanding of what is causing your anxiety.

It might also help you learn how to manage your response to stressful stimuli, which may help you feel greater control in overwhelming, anxiety-producing situations.

What types of biofeedback are useful for anxiety?

There are several types of biofeedback used to treat anxiety. You and a mental health professional will determine which is most appropriate to help you reach your wellness goals.

Types of biofeedback most often used for anxiety may include:

  • electromyography (EMG)
  • respiratory (breathing) biofeedback
  • neurofeedback (EEG)

Although there are biofeedback devices designed for personal, at-home use, limited research exists on their effectiveness. Further, many devices have not had any independent research conducted. A 2018 critical review of wearable devices, apps, and other biofeedback equipment suggests buyers should carefully investigate such products before purchase.

Additionally, it’s important to understand that at-home devices are not connected to a trained professional who can accurately read and interpret the data collected.

Just like any treatment or therapy for anxiety, biofeedback has pros and cons. That’s why it can be a good idea to research methods and therapists who do biofeedback thoroughly before signing up for sessions.

It may be a smart first step to speak with your doctor or therapist about biofeedback to determine if it could be right for you and your treatment plan.

Advantages of biofeedback may include:

  • noninvasive
  • relatively easy and brief to perform
  • does not use medication, and can reduce the need for medication
  • may help you feel more in control of your mental health
  • can be done at home after OK’ed by a biofeedback therapist

Disadvantages of biofeedback may include:

  • scientific research is limited on its effectiveness
  • readings might be inaccurate for those who have health conditions such as a heart arrhythmia or certain skin conditions
  • sessions can be time-consuming
  • it may take several sessions to see improvements
  • may not be covered by health insurance

One systematic review published in 2018 suggested that several challenges arose while using biofeedback for stress management. This review highlighted the importance of making improvements in user accessibility.

Biofeedback is noninvasive and may help you identify bodily response to anxious feelings as they arise, and provide you with tools to effectively manage symptoms in the moment.

Although there are several effective treatment options for anxiety, biofeedback can be a good option if you’re looking for alternatives to traditional methods. Oftentimes, biofeedback is used in addition to mainstream anxiety treatment options, like medication and therapy.

However, biofeedback is not for everyone, and scientists are still learning about the role biofeedback can play in treating anxiety.

If you are interested in exploring biofeedback for anxiety, speaking with your doctor or therapist is often the best first step. Like all therapies, you may have to try several types before you find an option that works best for you.

And if you need help finding a therapist, you can visit Psych Central’s guide on finding mental health support.

Biofeedback resources

To learn more about biofeedback for anxiety and connect with a therapist near you, visit:

  • Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, Inc. (AAPB)
  • International Society for Neuroregulation and Research (ISNR)
  • Biofeedback Certification International Alliance (BCIA)

What is bos-therapy, biofeedback, biofeedback?

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What is Bos Therapy, Biofeedback or Biofeedback (BF)? S.A. Isaichev

It is believed that we cannot consciously control our heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure. Modern technologies and the method of biological feedback (BFB), biofeedback therapy in psychology allow everyone to control the processes that occur in the body. nine0003

If you or your loved ones have suffered a severe nervous shock or are simply depressed by chronic stress and experience psychological discomfort, write a letter to professional psychologist Sergey Isaychev at isaychev@mail. ru. It will help you understand the cause of your problems, get rid of them forever and learn to enjoy life again.

It is sometimes quite difficult to cope with anger, sudden strong fear, depression. Or get rid of annoying unpleasant memories of traumatic events. Difficult but possible! nine0003

Modern psychological and biomedical technologies allow everyone to learn how to control the processes that occur in our body: both at the physiological and psychological levels.

We are talking about a fairly new direction of modern cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy - biofeedback therapy, biofeedback, in English transcription - biofeedback (biofeedback - BFB).

Now the BFB method, BOS-therapy, is effectively used in the treatment of both psychological diseases (chronic stress, depression, anxiety disorders, sleep disorders, phobias, neurosis, chronic fatigue syndrome), and psychosomatic (with headaches, hypertension, bronchial asthma, hyperactivity syndrome, muscle regulation disorders, erectile dysfunction). nine0003

The essence of bos therapy, the essence of the method lies in the fact that a person, using information about the work of his functional system, learns to manage it.

SCIENTIFIC. The functional system is formed as a result of individual life experience. It provides the organization and execution of behavioral acts aimed at adapting the organism to changing environmental conditions.

Biological feedback is the mechanism that develops this system in the right direction. Or, conversely, contribute to the formation of pathology. Globally speaking, feedback is one of the basic elements of the formation of the psyche and human behavior. nine0003

In order to get rid of psychological or psychosomatic disorders, it is necessary to destroy the pathological system and create a new one. Or return to a forgotten old one that used to define normal behavior. This becomes possible when we use the most remarkable feature of our brain - the ability to self-regulate and self-organize.

It is enough to tell the brain in some way that it is not working as it should, and it will independently rebuild the functional system that we consider pathological (in behavior or psychophysiology). One of the most effective methods is based on the mechanism of self-regulation correction of various disorders - the BFB method, or biofeedback. nine0003

Devices with biofeedback "Medic MTD" in Moscow!

The procedure is quite simple. The patient is put on special sensors that allow you to register various parameters of his nervous system. Information about the change of any parameter is sent to the monitor screen. For example, the heart rate or muscle tone changes.

This information is provided in a form accessible to a person: changing the schedule, readings of a digital indicator, a musical fragment, an image, a video clip, etc. Analyzing changes in the parameter on the monitor screen and comparing these changes with his state, a person gradually learns to control the activity of his physiological systems. For example, arbitrarily change the heart rate, control the rhythms of your brain, emotional state. nine0003

If a person manages to change the controlled parameter in the right direction, he receives positive reinforcement: for example, pleasant music sounds. If not, an unpleasant noise appears in the headphones. At the end of a series of trainings (about 10-15 sessions), a person can learn to arbitrarily control the activity of his psychophysiological systems.

Biofeedback is best used to treat so-called functional disorders caused by chronic or severe episodic stress. The danger of chronic stress is its gradual and imperceptible effect on the nervous system. nine0003

A patient comes to us with complaints of pain in the heart area, excessive sweating, insomnia, headaches, decreased emotional tone and increased anxiety. He has a very difficult relationship with his superiors at work. After each conversation with the leader, he cannot calm down for a long time. In the evening he cannot fall asleep: he mentally goes over all the possible options for his behavior. There is an effect of chronic stress.

People can endure such stress in different ways: someone can burn out longer, and someone can burn out in a month and begin psychosomatic changes. Possible correction options. nine0003

1. Change jobs (i.e. get rid of the stressor).

2. See a doctor who will prescribe stress relievers. But you need to remember that if he stops taking them, everything will return to its place (a temporary solution to the problem).

3. Learn self-regulation using the biofeedback method and permanently get rid of inadequate stress reactions.

How is it done?

Take a rather simple case. A person is afraid to ride the subway or fly on an airplane: he suffers from a phobic disorder. To begin with, we determine how severe this or that violation is: we carry out diagnostics. To do this, on the monitor screen, a person is presented with various photographs or videos taken in the subway (or on board the aircraft). At the same time, a complex of indicators of the nervous system is recorded (encephalogram, cardiogram, galvanic skin reaction, muscle and vascular tone). Based on these indicators, it is possible to determine the link in the system where the violation occurred, and the indicator that can help restore its normal functioning. We compare the indicators in a calm state (normal) and upon presentation of the test material. For example, the normal pulse is about 70 beats per minute, and when presented with traumatic images, it jumps up to 140 beats, the vascular tone also changes dramatically, an emotional reaction is recorded, etc. It is clear that the trip to the subway for this person is not just an unpleasant situation. He has a real phobia. nine0003

Then training starts - 2-3 times a week for 30-40 minutes. A person first learns to control the activity of his nervous system and his emotional state. After he has learned to voluntarily induce a state of rest and relaxation, the main stage of treatment begins. He must learn to be in a comfortable state for him, despite the constant presentation of stressful stimuli. The severity of these incentives is constantly increasing. Along with frightening images, information about some psychophysiological parameter, for example, heart rate, is also displayed on the monitor screen. A person sees changes in heart rate provoked by phobic stimuli and tries to maintain the state of comfort and peace that we previously formed in him. After some time - 10-15 sessions, he succeeds. That is, he already has a weapon against his fear and the phobia is defeated. nine0003

Boss therapy can't make a naturally depressed person into a cheerful optimist, but at least he won't jump out the window. And if depression is caused by functional disorders, then the person will return to normal life. We were contacted by a woman who had to urgently finish her Ph.D. thesis, but as a result of prolonged stress, she simply could not concentrate during her work. As a result of completing 15 concentration trainings, she was able to read scientific literature and work anywhere and under any distracting conditions. With bovine therapy, even healthy people can learn to manage themselves by changing the characteristics of the brain.” It has long been proven that biofeedback is an effective way to overcome pain. As it turned out, headaches are often associated with excessive tension in the muscles of the head. Often, vascular spasms occur, pressure is disturbed, tissues are gradually destroyed. Such an overstrain can be caused by various reasons, among which one of the main psychological ones is anxiety, stress or depression. However, regardless of the initial cause, in Bos therapy, a person is faced with an immediate consequence - pain, and learns to control, for example, tension in the muscles of the head. Gradually, a person develops a mechanism for suppressing pain. nine0003

Boss therapy makes it possible to recognize and see in oneself those states that already exist, and, having learned to manage them, realize the possibility of living one's own life. During treatment or correction, the entire pathological response system is rebuilt. At present, techniques are being developed that instill professionally important skills; psychological qualities that contribute to the comprehensive development of children, form creative abilities in a person and socially demanded qualities. nine0003

Isaychev S.A.

Biofeedback (BF THERAPY)

About the service


Biofeedback, or biofeedback therapy, is a modern technique that helps to learn how to control the physiological processes associated with the functioning of our nervous system. This is a kind of “physiological mirror”, with the help of which the patient clearly sees the internal processes of the body and, with the help of special training, teaches them to regulate them. nine0113

BFB (Biofeedback) trainer was developed in the middle of the last century. Since then, it has been actively used in correctional and developmental classes, in sports, educational and medical institutions.

How does it work?

The patient is put on sensors that read the performance of his nervous system: pulse, respiration, muscle tone, body temperature, blood pressure, electrical activity of the brain. All these parameters are translated into easy-to-perceive images or sounds. Based on the information from the biofeedback simulator, the patient learns to consciously change the visible parameters with the help of special exercises. nine0113

The NET clinic offers several types of biofeedback therapy:

  • biofeedback according to EMG – the sensor is attached to a muscle, when it contracts or relaxes, the child sees on the screen certain actions performed by the cartoon character. In this case, by reinforcing the child with a cartoon, it is easier to achieve the necessary exercises correctly.
  • Rhythm BFB or RHYTHMOBOS – during the lesson, the child performs rhythmic taps with the stylus on a special sensor, trying to repeat as much as possible the rhythm set by the computer. As a result, an internal sense of rhythm is developed, which improves the ability to perceive information and speak correctly, for example, when stuttering, it also improves memory and concentration. nine0133
  • Balance BFB – while on the platform, the child learns to properly control his body, balancing and engaging the necessary muscles in such a way that the hero on the screen moves and avoids obstacles. After completing the course, the child learns to turn on the necessary stabilizer muscles, in addition, the skill of visual concentration is developed, which further improves the ability to follow the text and absorb the material.
  • BFB for breathing - the sensor is attached to the diaphragm area to teach the child to breathe correctly. According to the video sequence on the screen, the doctor together with the child understands whether the movement of the diaphragm is performed correctly. With the help of proper breathing, you can get rid of anxiety, stuttering, prevent panic attacks, and relieve tension headaches. nine0133

A session with a child lasts 30-40 minutes and includes biofeedback according to various parameters, which allows you to comprehensively approach the problem without tiring the patient.

Advantages of the BFB method:

  • Has no absolute contraindications for use
  • Allows dosing and control of loads during each session relies on the activation and mobilization of the human body's own reserves
  • Compatible with all types of ongoing and rehabilitation activities
  • Painless and non-invasive
  • Convenience, suitable for both adults and children, the elderly

Operation on the biofeedback simulator is simple and clear. Due to accessibility, both a child and an adult can master the BFB training technique. The minimum age threshold is 4 years. There are no absolute contraindications to the use of biofeedback therapy. With special care, work is being done with clients with epiactivity, chronic diseases (lungs, central nervous system, cardiovascular system, vestibular apparatus). nine0113

  • After the 1st course, after about 2-3 weeks, the second course is prescribed, the 3rd and 4th courses are individual for each, but most often the 3rd course is 2-4 months after the 2nd course, the 4th course is 4-8 months later.

  • No, Boss therapy is a course technique. We can judge the result obtained only after completing 4 courses, however, after the first course, the child undergoes significant changes in the emotional-volitional sphere and in behavior, which indicates to us that the program was selected correctly and the process was launched. The main thing during this period is to accept the child with his changes and build new patterns of behavior

  • The specialist must have a higher medical or psychological education and a document certifying the right to work as a biofeedback therapist. In our clinic, all BOS-therapy specialists have been trained and have experience in this area.

  • The course is selected by a biofeedback therapy specialist at the initial consultation, the duration of one session is from 25 to 30 minutes, depending on the diseases. nine0003

  • Biofeedback therapy is a course technique, even in severe cases we see changes for the better already on the 1st course. However, all treatment should be based on an integrated approach in the system. Without changes in the parent-child relationship with any disease, you will not see the result. Only by changing yourself, you will see changes in the child.

Benefits of treatment at the NET 9 clinic0003

Comprehensive neurological care for children from birth and adults

Modern methods of treatment of developmental delays

Doctors of the highest category with many years of experience

Diagnostics on expert-class equipment

Individual rehabilitation programs

Clinical base of the Department of Pediatric Neurology nine0003


Pateev Timur Kamilevich

Teacher-defectologist, neuropsychologist

Consultation 1500
Neuropsychological session 1200

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