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Guided Imagery Reduces Depression & Anxiety in Chemo Patients

08 Oct

Researchers from Cyprus University of Technology and the University of Athens conducted a randomized, controlled study, testing the effectiveness of guided imagery and progressive muscle relaxation as stress reducing interventions in 236 patients with prostate and breast cancer who were being treated with chemotherapy.

Subjects were randomly assigned to either the control group or the intervention group (PMR and GI), and were observed for a total duration of 3 weeks. In total, 104 were randomized to the control group and 104 to the intervention group.

The measurement tools used were the the SAS questionnaire for anxiety and the BECK-II questionnaire for depression, in addition to collecting two biological markers - saliva cortisol and saliva amylase.
Changes in mean anxiety score and mean depression score in the guided imagery/PMR intervention group were significantly higher than the changes in the control group (b = -29.4, p < 0.001; b = -29.4, p < 0.001, resp.) which were not.

Additionally, the guided imagery group's cortisol levels before the intervention (0.30 ± 0.25) gradually dropped up to week 3 (0.16 ± 0.18), while the control group's cortisol levels before the intervention (0.21 ± 0.22) gradually increased up to week 3 (0.44 ± 0.35). The same interaction appears for the Amylase levels (p < 0.001).

The investigators conclude that patients with prostate and breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy treatment can benefit from PMR and GI sessions to reduce their anxiety and depression.

Citation: Andreas Charalambous, Margarita Giannakopoulou, Evangelos Bozas, and Lefkios Paikousis. Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2015;2015:270876. doi: 10.1155/2015/270876. Epub 2015 Aug 6.

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Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award.