Heart rate variability biofeedback as treatment for PTSD

Researchers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, in Washington, DC, investigated its potential value in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

First, the details.

  • The researchers used heart variability biofeedback and determined its efficacy in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Active duty service members deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan were alternatively assigned to a treatment group.
    • Treatment as usual control group
    • Treatment as usual with the addition of biofeedback therapy for 3 weeks.

And, the results.

  • Biofeedback did not produce a measurable improvement over the control group.

The bottom line?

The results were negative.

To the contrary, a study published earlier this year by researchers at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affair Medical Center, in Houston, Texas reported that heart rate variability biofeedback significantly increased the heart rate variability while reducing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

A review of research with heart rate variability biofeedback revealed that it “consistently effectuates acute improvements during biofeedback practice, whereas the presence of short-term and long-term carry-over effects is less clear.”

If you’re interested, more on heart rate variability biofeedback is here.

12/12/10 19:42 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.