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Answers About Biofeedback and Behavioral Medicine

Question: What is Biofeedback?

Answer: bi•o•feed•back

The technique of using monitoring devices to furnish information regarding an autonomic bodily function, such as heart rate or blood pressure, in an attempt to gain some voluntary control over that function. It may be used clinically to treat certain conditions, such as hypertension and migraine headache.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition.
Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.

If you’ve ever stepped on a scale, taken your temperature or looked in the mirror, you’ve used biofeedback – the return of information about the body back to its source. Behavioral scientists and psychotherapists monitor physiological processes such as heart rate, electrical activity in the muscles, and skin temperature because these measures are indicators of the physical responses of the body that are related to your mental state. Stress and anxiety can cause temporary changes in these measures, and over time if stress continues, these changes can lead to chronic medical problems.