Respiratory dysregulation in anxiety, functional cardiac, and pain disorders. Assessment, phenomenology, and treatment.

Abstract

Respiration is a complex physiological system affecting a variety of physical processes that can act as a critical link between mind and body. This review discusses the evidence for dysregulated breathing playing a role in three clinical syndromes: panic disorder, functional cardiac disorder, and chronic pain. Recent technological advances allowing the ambulatory assessment of endtidal partial pressure of CO2 (PCO2) and respiratory patterns have opened up new avenues for investigation and treatment of these disorders. The latest evidence from laboratories indicates that subtle disturbances of breathing, such as tidal volume instability and sighing, contribute to the chronic hypocapnia often found in panic patients. Hypocapnia is also common in functional cardiac and chronic pain disorders, and studies indicate that it mediates some of their symptomatology. Consistent with the role of respiratory dysregulation in these disorders, initial evidence indicates efficacy of respiration-focused treatment.

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