Heart Rate Variability and Galvanic Skin Response
Heart Rate Variability
Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is the beat-to-beat variations in heart rate or pulse which occur normally during all levels of activity, from sleeping to sitting still or moving. HRV is closely tied to a person’s emotional state, and with biofeedback it can be used as a treatment option for a variety of emotional and cognitive conditions, including anxiety and depression.
HRV patterns are different from heart rate patterns, and are much more significant for emotional based therapy. When we are in a constant state of stress, anxiety, anger or sadness our heart rate tends to be lower and more disorganized. In contrast, when we are in an emotionally stable state our heart rate reflects this by being more rhythmical. Using a computerized analysis of heart and respiratory rate information, it is possible to measure the rate of variability and to then use this information to create a more stable emotional state.
The conditions best addressed by HRV Biofeedback include:
Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) Biofeedback
Galvanic Skin Response, also known as electrodermal response (EDR) or psychogalvanic reflex (PGR), is a method of measuring the electrical resistance of the skin and interpreting it as an image of activity in certain parts of the body. Changes in the electrical properties of the skin in response to stress or anxiety can be measured either by recording the electrical resistance of the skin or by recording weak currents generated by the body.
Stress thermometers are a less sophisticated version to teach hand-warming techniques. All of these yield feedback or information and are used to teach individuals to better control stress. Basically, increased stress levels lessen the blood flow to the hands and feet. This causes a decrease in peripheral (hand/foot) temperatures. With the monitoring help of GSR, an individual can learn to control that temperature. What is happening is biofeedback or the ability to consciously control the dilation and constriction of blood vessels in the arms and legs.