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Other Names:

Abbreviated Muscle Relaxation Therapy, Applied Relaxation, Jacobson Muscle Relaxation, MRT, Muscle Relaxation Training, PMRT, Progressive Muscle Relaxation Training, Progressive Relaxation, Relaxation Appliquée, Relaxation de Jacobson, Relaxatio...
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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.

RELAXATION THERAPY Uses & Effectiveness What is this?

Insufficient Evidence for:

  • 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 (TMD). 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.
  • Stress.
  • Fatigue.
  • Depression.
  • Fibromyalgia.
  • Pain.
  • Cancer treatment side effects.
  • Headache.
  • Heart disease.
  • Social anxiety.
  • Metabolic syndrome.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of relaxation therapy for these uses.

RELAXATION THERAPY Side Effects & Safety

There are no known safety concerns. Relaxation therapy has been safely used in several clinical trials.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: More information is needed to determine whether it’s safe to use relaxation therapy during pregnancy and breast-feeding. But so far there’s no reason to believe that it might be harmful.

RELAXATION THERAPY Interactions What is this?

We currently have no information for RELAXATION THERAPY Interactions


The appropriate or safe use of relaxation therapy depends on several factors such as the condition being treated or the person administering the treatment. Be sure to seek and follow relevant directions from your physician or other healthcare professional before using this treatment.

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Conditions of Use and Important Information: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version. © Therapeutic Research Faculty 2009.

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