Stress Relief Research (72)
Investigators from the Coimbra Nursing School in Coimbra, Portugal and the University of Akron’s College of Nursing reported on the efficacy of a guided imagery intervention for decreasing depression, anxiety, and stress and increasing comfort in psychiatric inpatients with depressive disorders.
A quasi-experimental design sampled 60 short-term hospitalized patients suffering from depression, selected consecutively. The experimental group listened to a guided imagery compact disk once a day for 10 days.
An earlier study by this principal investigator showed that MBSR reduced depressive symptoms in patients with fibromyalgia with gains maintained at two months follow-up (Sephton et al., Arthritis & Rheumatism, 57:77-85, 2007).
This second study explored the effects of MBSR on basal sympathetic (SNS) activation among women with fibromyalgia. Twenty-four participants were tested before and after MBSR for anxiety, depressive symptoms, and SNS activation.
Researchers from the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles conducted a 4-week pilot study to determine whether Interactive Guided Imagery could be effective for stress reduction (and therefore reduce the metabolic disease risk associated with obesity and hypercortisolism) in overweight Latino adolescents.
Researchers from Dalian University of Technology in Dalian, China, set out to explore why five days of integrative body-mind training (IBMT)* improves attentional focus and self-regulation better than relaxation training. The underlying mechanisms were sought by measuring physiological and brain changes at rest before, during, and after 5 days of IBMT and relaxation training.
[*IBMT is a meditation practice developed by Dr. Yi-Yuan Tang, a pioneer in studying neurological effects of meditation, by modifying and simplifying Chinese Tao meditation. It doesn’t focus on thoughts in the mind, but rather a state of restful alertness from a high level of body awareness, augmented by the breath and guided imagery with music.]
During and after training, the IBMT group showed significantly better physiological reactions in heart rate, respiratory amplitude and rate, and skin conductance response (SCR) than the relaxation controls.
Researchers from the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Alberta, Calgary, investigated the effects of a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) meditation program on early stage breast and prostate cancer patients, examining quality of life, mood states, stress symptoms, as well as levels of cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate (DHEAS) and melatonin.
Fifty-nine patients with breast cancer and 10 with prostate cancer enrolled in an eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program that incorporated relaxation, meditation, gentle yoga, and daily home practice. Data was collected on demographic and health behavior variables, along with measures of quality of life, mood, stress, and assays of salivary cortisol (assessed three times/day), plasma DHEAS, and salivary melatonin, both pre- and post-intervention.
Investigators from Mind Matters Research in Anchorage, Alaska summarized their Phase I National Cancer Institute (NCI)-funded clinical trial with 34 breast cancer survivors, six weeks to one year post-treatment, who were recruited to participate in a 6-class, 8-week long imagery stress reduction program entitled "Envision the Rhythms of Life."
Patients practiced imagery during and between sessions. Outcomes for quality of life and cortisol rhythm were assessed pre- to post-intervention, in two subsets of survivors (intravenous [IV] chemotherapy, or no IV chemotherapy).
Researchers from the Department of Psychiatry at Brigham and Women's Hospital/Harvard Medical School reviewed the evidence on the efficacy of biofeedback for the two most prevalent headache conditions--migraine and tension-type headache.
Two recently published meta-analyses yielded data from 150 outcome studies - randomized controlled trials as well as uncontrolled quasi-experimental designs. Of these, 94 studies were selected for inclusion, going by predefined criteria. Meta-analytic integrations were carried out separately for the two conditions of interest.
Researchers from Cardiff University in Wales performed a systematic review of RCTs (randomized, controlled trials) of various psychological treatments for PTSD. The study looked at trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy/exposure therapy (TFCBT); stress management (SM – this is where guided imagery would mostly fit); supportive therapy; non-directive counseling; psychodynamic therapy; hypnotherapy; group cognitive behavioural therapy; and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).
Thirty-three studies wound up qualifying for inclusion in the review.
There was no significant difference between TFCBT (cognitive behavioral
therapy) and SM (stress management) – both did significantly better
than wait-list controls and than the other therapies. EMDR also did
Researchers from Cheju National University in Korea performed a meta-analysis to evaluate the effectiveness of various kinds of job stress management interventions. From 46 studies, six intervention types were distinguished: cognitive-behavioral interventions (CBT), relaxation techniques (RT), exercise (EX), multimodal programs 1 and 2(MT1, 2), and organization focused interventions (OTs).
The studies were published between 1997-2007 and included randomized, controlled trials, as well as simple observational studies without control groups, evaluating the efficacy of relaxation training [including Jacobson's progressive relaxation, autogenic training, applied relaxation and meditation] for anxiety problems and disorders.
Comprehensive electronic searches through Pubmed, Psychinfo and Cochrane Registers yielded 27 qualified studies. The primary outcome was degree of anxiety, measured with psychometric questionnaires. Meta-analysis was undertaken synthesizing the data from all trials, distinguishing within and between effect sizes.
As hypothesized, relaxation training showed medium-to-large effect sizes in the treatment of anxiety. Efficacy was higher for meditation, among volunteers and for longer durations of treatments. The researchers conclude that their results show consistent and significant efficacy for relaxation training’s impact on the reduction of anxiety.