Does biofeedback help against panic attacks?

In Europe, about two percent of people suffer from panic disorder once in their lives. An essential feature is the sudden repetition of anxiety attacks, which cannot be predicted or explained to those affected, which culminate in minutes to climax. Accompanied by symptoms such as tachycardia, fever, anxiety, shivering, chest pain, shortness of breath, or dizziness. In addition, patients often have great anxiety about losing control, going crazy, suffering a physical breakdown or heart attack, or even dying. "Therefore, it is understandable that many patients develop fears of expecting the next attack and change their lifestyles to avoid certain situations," says Privatdozent Dr. Med. Rupert Conrad from the Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy at Bonn University Hospital.

Using biofeedback to observe and influence physical signals

Biofeedback is used, among other things, to relax and improve the physical symptoms described above. Here, physical signals that are difficult to access through immediate sensory perception, such as heart rate or heart rate variability, are recorded and recorded visually or acoustically through special devices. This method is intended to help patients to notice unconscious bodily processes and change them in a favorable direction. "With our study, we would like to examine more closely the effectiveness of biofeedback in the treatment of panic disorder," says Prof. Dr. Honey. Katja Petrowski from the Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy at Mainz University Medical Center.

Therefore, Professor Petrowski and private lecturer Conrad, who are studying together at the University Hospital of Bonn, are looking for those suffering from panic disorder. You should be between the ages of 18 and 65, and you are not currently undergoing psychotherapy and have no heart disease.

Participants wanted a study at Bonn University Hospital

After a detailed psychological diagnosis, participants try biofeedback. Because stress and immune parameters are closely related, these biomarkers are determined from the blood, which requires a blood sample to be given. Thereafter, there will be more than five weeks once a week, one to a maximum of two hours for biofeedback treatment, and once every six weeks after the last treatment.

Participants receive a € 50 fee and a modern, science-based biofeedback treatment. "This allows our patients to receive very individual feedback on the psychophysiological processes in their body. In addition, those who are still waiting for a place for psychotherapy can ideally bridge the time by participating in our study," says Conrad.

Those interested can contact M.Sc. Dogs. Johanna Jurczyk at the Clinic for Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy at Bonn University Hospital by phone +49 (0) 228 / 287-14605 or by email at

Scientific contact:
PD Dr. Rupert Conrad
Senior Physician and Research Director
Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy
Bonn University Hospital
Phone: 0228 / 287-16299
Email: Rupert.Conrad@ukb.uni-bonn.

Prof. Katja Petrovsky
Head of the Department of Medical Psychology and Medical Sociology
Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy
Johannes Gutenberg University Medical Center in Mainz
Phone: 06131 / 39-25979

idw 2019/08