Autistic people listen to their hearts to test anti-anxiety therapy

Topic Selected: Stress Book Volume: 351

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Trial seeks further proof that tuning into our internal organs’ activity can reduce anxiety.

 

By Hannah Devlin, Science correspondent

A pioneering therapy aimed at lowering anxiety by tuning into your own heartbeat is being put to the test in the first clinical trial of its kind.

The treatment, known as interoception-directed therapy, is being tested on 120 autistic people, for whom anxiety is a common problem.

The trial follows a decade’s research by Prof. Sarah Garfinkel, a psychologist at the University of Sussex, into the intriguing ways that interactions between the heart and the brain influence emotions and behaviour. The latest work, funded by the mental health charity MQ: Transforming Mental Health, aims to turn these insights into a therapy.

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