RELAXATION THERAPY Overview Information
Relaxation therapy is a behavioral therapy used to relieve psychological stress and fatigue. It can be guided by a therapist or trainer or done alone.
A variety of methods are used in relaxation therapy, and it is often combined with other practices including guided imagery and biofeedback. Relaxation can be achieved using methods including imagery, breathing exercises, focused muscle tensing and relaxing, and others.
Relaxation therapy is used for stress, fatigue, anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). It is also used for fear of social situations (social anxiety and social phobia) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some people try it for pain, including headache and jaw pain associated with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). Other uses included relief of cancer treatment side effects, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure (CHF), metabolic syndrome, and many other conditions.
How does it work?
Relaxation therapy is a behavioral therapy used to relieve psychological stress and fatigue. It is thought that stress results in increased nervous system activity, which could have a negative effect on disease processes. Relaxation therapy is thought to decrease nervous system activity, slow heart rate, decrease blood pressure, decrease anxiety, improve mood, and impart a sense of control in people with medical conditions.
- Congestive heart failure (CHF). Early research shows that relaxation therapy does not significantly improve symptoms of heart failure. However, it does seem to improve mental distress, depression, and quality of life in heart failure patients.
- Anxiety. Developing research suggests that relaxation therapy for 12 sessions significantly improves symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder immediately after treatment and after 6 months of follow-up.
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Research shows that relaxation therapy might improve symptoms in people with chronic fatigue syndrome. But it doesn’t seem to work nearly as well as cognitive behavioral therapy.
- High blood pressure. Relaxation therapy lowers blood pressure somewhat in people with slightly high blood pressure after 8 weeks of treatment.
- Social fear. There is some evidence that relaxation therapy works better for social fear than no treatment. But it doesn’t seem to work as well as cognitive therapy or task concentration training.
- Temporomandibular disorder (TMJ). Emerging research shows that relaxation therapy might improve pain in people with TMJ.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There is evidence that relaxation therapy can significantly reduce feelings of anger and guilt in people with PTSD.
- Cancer treatment side effects.
- Heart disease.
- Social anxiety.
- Metabolic syndrome.
- Other conditions.
RELAXATION THERAPY Side Effects & Safety
There are no known safety concerns. Relaxation therapy has been safely used in several clinical trials.