Several hundred peer-reviewed studies in the past 20 years have shown that the relaxation response and mind–body interventions are clinically effective in the treatment of many health problems that are caused or made worse by stress. Recent studies show that mind–body interventions may improve prognosis in coronary heart disease and can enhance immune functioning. It is hypothesized that mind–body interventions reduce sympathetic nervous system activation and increase parasympathetic nervous system activity, and thereby restore homeostasis. Researchers have also concluded that cognitive therapy is as effective, and possibly more effective than antidepressant medication in the treatment of major depression. This report provides an overview of some studies that have shown a beneficial role of the relaxation response and cognitive restructuring in the treatment of headaches, insomnia, and cardiovascular disorders. Studies to date suggest that mind–body interventions are effective and can also provide cost savings in patient treatment. It is also clear, however, that mind–body therapies are not panaceas, and should be used in conjunction with standard medical care.
Journal of Integrative and Complementary Medicine
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Behavior Research and Therapy
In this study, Herbert Benson's (1975) Relaxation Response Meditation program was tested as a possible treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Participants were 16 adults who were matched into pairs based on presence of Axis I disorder, primary IBS symptoms and demographic features and randomized to either a six week meditation condition or a six week wait list symptom monitoring condition. Thirteen participants completed treatment and follow-up. All subjects assigned to the Wai […]
Journal of American College Health
The authors examined the effect of a 6-week mind/body intervention on college students' psychological distress, anxiety, and perception of stress. One hundred twenty-eight students were randomly assigned to an experimental group (n = 63) or a waitlist control group (n = 65). The experimental group received 6 90-minute group-training sessions in the relaxation response and cognitive behavioral skills. The Symptom Checklist-90-Revised, Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, and the […]
Although the physiological and biochemical changes that occur during the acute stress response have been well-characterized, the contrasting changes that underlie the relaxation response evoked by various mind-body techniques are less understood. To help guide future mind-body research, we present a conceptual model that integrates patterns of change at the physiological and molecular levels. In addition, we point to future research opportunities and discuss how repeated elicitation o […]