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The effects of relaxation response training on menopausal symptoms.

15 Aug

In a 1996 randomized, controlled pilot study by Irvin, Domar, Clark, Zuttermeister and Friedman at New England Deaconess in Boston, 33 menopausal women between 44-66 years old were assigned to either Relaxation Response training, a support group or a control group.

As many of you know, the Relaxation Response is a technique developed by Herbert Benson that simplifies the essence of ancient mantra and breathing meditation. You do some conscious breathing and repeat a calming word or phrase to yourself, like "Peace" or "All is well". It''s kind of a Meditation 101, and by keeping it simple, calling it "The Relaxation Response", and doing some outcome research with it, the wiley, practical Benson made it acceptable in corporate venues and other traditionally skeptical places ... to which we say, "GOOD FOR YOU, HERB!"

The Relaxation Response group had significant reductions in hot flash intensity (p < 0.05), tension-anxiety (p < 0.05) and depression (p < 0.05). The support group had significant reductions in tension-anxiety (p < 0.05) and confusion-bewilderment (p < 0.05). The control group stayed the same.

Side Bar: For all you statistics-phobic folk out there, these "p" numbers signify the probability that the same results would happen by chance ... so the smaller the "p", the more important the finding. When a "p" is less than .001, researchers start doing cartwheels and have to fight an urge to kiss their subjects.]

Citation: Irvin JH, Domar AD, Clark C, Zuttermeister PC, Friedman R. The Effects of Relaxation Response Training on Menopausal Symptoms. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology. 1996 Dec; 17 (4): 202-207.
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