The House Is Crashing down on Me: Integrating Mindfulness, Breath Training, and Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback for an Anxiety Disorder in a 71-Year-Old Caregiver

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Abstract

Caregiver stress is a growing problem with an aging population, and many spouses are cast in the caregiver role for extended periods. Preexisting anxiety disorders commonly recur in the face of caregiver stress. This article narrates the case of a 71-year-old retired professional woman serving as caregiver for a husband with dementia. The stress of the caregiver role served to trigger a recurrence of a previously treated anxiety disorder. The case narrative illustrates the value of mindfulness, breath training, and heart rate variability biofeedback for the anxiety disorder, as well as an effort to instill sustainable self-regulation skills and lifestyle changes for greater resilience in this long-term situation. Some of the lifestyle-oriented interventions are summarized only briefly in this article.

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