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There are many types of relaxation therapies, and they use a variety of techniques that can be helpful in calming someone with panic disorder (as well as for someone with generalized anxiety disorder.)
Some common relaxtion therapies are:
- Guided Imagery
- Jacobson's progressive relaxation
- autogenic training
- applied relaxation
- Many more
However, regardless of which relaxation therapy is used, most of them share certain related features.
Effect of Relaxation Therapies on Panic Disorder
A variety of relaxation techniques can help you ease your way through a panic attack. Examples include deep breathing and positive visualization. Many people with panic disorder have a faster than average breathing rate, so learning to slow down breathing can help prevent future attacks.
In many relaxation techniques, one begins by either lying down or assuming a relaxed, seated posture in a quiet place and closing the eyes. The next step differs depending on the method. In autogenic training, relaxation response, and certain forms of meditation, one focuses one’s mind on internal sensations, such as the breath. Guided-imagery techniques employ deliberate visualization of scenes or actions, such as walking on a quiet beach. Progressive relaxation techniques involve gradual relaxation of the muscles. Finally, some schools of meditation incorporate the repetition of a phrase or sound silently or aloud.
All of these techniques are best learned with the aid of a trained practitioner. The usual format is a group class supplemented by regular home practice. If you are diligent enough, experience suggests that you can develop the ability to call on a relaxed state at will, even in the middle of a very stressful situation.
This article discusses a group of stress-reduction techniques often called relaxation therapies. In addition to these methods, yoga , Tai Chi, hypnosis, massage, and biofeedback can also help induce a relaxed state.
Read more details about Relaxation Therapies.
Research Evidence on Relaxation Therapies
There is a fair amount of evidence in support of relaxation therapies as means to treat the symptoms of anxiety, at least in the short-term.23-25,59,64,70,74
In a 2008 review of 27 studies, researchers concluded that relaxation therapies (including Jacobson's progressive relaxation, autogenic training, applied relaxation, and meditation) were effective against anxiety.75
Not all of the studies were randomized, controlled trials since relaxation therapies often include multiple components. Traditional research reduces treatments to a single mechanism of action, and tries to rule out all other factors that might affect that single piece. However, since there are many factors present during relaxation therapies (for example, a person may lie down, breathe deeply, meditate, experience some guided imagery as led by an instructor etc.) that type of research would not be helpful in determining how effective are relaxation therapies. Additionally, allowing the patient to choose the type of relaxation therapy the prefer is extremely important, and this would not be allowed in a randomized control trial.
There are no known or proposed safety risks with relaxation therapies.
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- Nyklicek I, Kuijpers KF. Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction intervention on psychological well-being and quality of life: Is increased mindfulness indeed the mechanism? Ann Behav Med. 2008 Jun 6.
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