Dr. Grossan's Ear, Nose and Throat Consultant Pages
Irrespective of the illness, whether headache, toothache, or an itch, one
can have an increase of symptoms by a process known as anxiety.
reinforcement. The more it itches, the more you scratch, the more anxious you
get, the more tense, the more it itches. It is absolutely essential to break
the anxiety reinforcement cycle, whatever the illness. The easiest way to do
this is with breathing and biofeedback. Normally you inhale and exhale
equally. In anxiety you take shorter, faster breaths. Inhalation is longer
than exhalation. When you breathe, inhalation is a contraction state, the
diaphragm and the chest muscles contract. ON exhalation, the diaphragm and
the chest muscles RELAX. Therefore you try to stay in the exhalation state
longer than in the inhalation state. Breathe in at the count of 4 and out at
the count of 6. As you exhale let that be a signal to relax the whole body.Raise your hand or finger, count 3 breaths, and at the count of 3 drop the
finger and let that be a signal to relax the jaw and body.
Use the mirror as a biofeedback machine. See your face relax. The more you
see the face and jaw relax, the more you are doing it right. You cannot feel
anxiety if your muscles are relaxed! I ask my patients to wear a watch and
every hour on the hour spend a minute or more practicing the breathing
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Last Update 5/6/96
Murray Grossan M.D.