Computer-Based Intervention May Reduce Anxiety, Suicide Risk

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A 45-minute computer-based intervention featuring videos, interactive features and questions could reduce a person’s risk for anxiety and suicide, according to researchers at Florida State University (FSU).

Brad Schmidt, PhD, director of FSU’s director of the Anxiety and Behavioral Health Clinic, created the Cognitive Anxiety Sensitivity Treatment (CAST) program after discovering that anxiety sensitivity was “very consistently” linked to suicide. He says there’s a strong association between heightened anxiety and suicide.

“A brief intervention could reduce this cognitive facet of anxiety sensitivity, and then when you follow people over time, what we found was that reductions in that respect were associated with reduced suicide risk during the follow-up period,” Schmidt told USA Today.

The 45-minute treatment has two parts: psychoeducation and interoceptive exposure. Under the former, a participant is given corrective information about symptoms of anxiety, while the latter involves a hyperventilation exercise that induces anxiety symptoms.

“When you hyperventilate it causes a lot of bodily sensations that are analogous to those that you experience when you feel really anxious,” Aaron Norr, a graduate student who works with Schmidt, said. “It’s just to kind of have people repeatedly go through that…so when they feel [those sensations] when they’re anxious it’s not as scary.”

Computer-Based Intervention May Reduce Anxiety, Suicide Risk
Computer-Based Intervention May Reduce Anxiety, Suicide Risk

A new computer-based intervention program designed and tested by Florida State University (FSU) researchers could reduce anxiety and suicide risk, a recent study says.

Brad Schmidt, PhD, director of the Anxiety and Behavioral Health Clinic at FSU, created the Cognitive Anxiety Sensitivity Treatment (CAST) program after finding a risk factor associated with anxiety problems. After a series of studies, Schmidt says he noticed that one component of the risk factor — anxiety sensitivity — was “very consistently” associated with suicide.

The treatment includes videos, interactive features and questions designed to deliver a better understanding of anxiety.

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