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Imagery And Anxiety Research

Treatment Of Anxiety:

A Comparison Of The Usefulness Of Self Hypnosis And A Meditational Relaxation Technique. An overview.

Benson H, Frankel FH, Apfel R, Daniels MD, Schniewind HE, Nemiah JC, Sifneos PE, Crassweller KD, Greenwood MM, Kotch JB, Arns PA, Rosner B.


We have investigated prospectively the efficacy of two nonpharmacologic relaxation techniques in the therapy of anxiety. A simple, meditational relaxation technique (MT) that elicits the changes of decreased sympathetic nervous system activity was compared to a self-hypnosis technique (HT) in which relaxation, with or without altered perceptions, was suggested. 32 patients with anxiety neurosis were divided into 2 groups on the basis of their responsivity to hypnosis: moderate-high and low responsivity. The MT or HT was then randomly assigned separately to each member of the two responsivity groups. Thus, 4 treatment groups were studied: moderate-high responsivity MT; low responsivity MT; moderate-high responsivity HT; and low responsivity HT. The low responsivity HT group, by definition largely incapable of achieving the altered perceptions essential to hypnosis, was designed as the control group. Patients were instructed to practice the assigned technique daily for 8 weeks. Change in anxiety was determined by three types of evaluation: psychiatric assessment; physiologic testing; and self-assessment. There was essentially no difference between the two techniques in therapeutic efficacy according to these evaluations. Psychiatric assessment revealed overall improvement in 34% of the patients and the self-rating assessment indicated improvement in 63% of the population. Patients who had moderate-high hypnotic responsivity, independent of the technique used, significantly improved on psychiatric assessment (p = 0.05) and decreased average systolic blood pressure from 126.1 to 122.5 mm Hg over the 8-week period (p = 0.048). The responsivity scores at the higher end of the hypnotic responsivity spectrum were proportionately correlated to greater decreases in systolic blood pressure (p = 0.075) and to improvement by psychiatric assessment (p = 0.003). There was, however, no consistent relation between hypnotic responsivity and the other assessments made, such as diastolic blood pressure, oxygen consumption, heart rate and the self-rating questionnaires. The meditational and self-hypnosis techniques employed in this investigation are simple to use and effective in the therapy of anxiety.


The Use Of Relaxation/Densensitization In Treating Anxiety Associated With Flying.  


Aitken JR, Benson JW.




Effectiveness Of Complementary And Self Help Treatments For Anxiety Disorders.

Jorm AF, Christensen H, Griffiths KM, Parslow RA, Rodgers B, Blewitt KA.


Centre for Mental Health Research, Australian National University, Building 63, Eggleston Road, Acton, ACT 0200, Australia. anthony.jorm@anu.edu.au.



To review the evidence for the effectiveness of complementary and self-help treatments for anxiety disorders.


Systematic literature search using PubMed, PsycLit, and the Cochrane Library.


108 treatments were identified and grouped under the categories of medicines and homoeopathic remedies, physical treatments, lifestyle, and dietary changes. We give a description of the 34 treatments (for which evidence was found in the literature searched), the rationale behind the treatments, a review of studies on effectiveness, and the level of evidence for the effectiveness studies.


The treatments with the best evidence of effectiveness are kava (for generalised anxiety), exercise (for generalised anxiety), relaxation training (for generalised anxiety, panic disorder, dental phobia and test anxiety) and bibliotherapy (for specific phobias). There is more limited evidence to support the effectiveness of acupuncture, music, autogenic training and meditation for generalised anxiety; for inositol in the treatment of panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder; and for alcohol avoidance by people with alcohol-use disorders to reduce a range of anxiety disorders.

This study describes the use of relaxation/densensitization therapy in treating anxiety associated with flying. Treated were 46 male and 1 female flight students who attended 3-6 sessions lasting 1 h each. This therapy uses a behavioral approach in treating anxiety associated with flying. Relaxation/densensitization incorporates the use of relaxation exercises and in-depth mental imagery. Six months after completion of therapy, all subjects were followed up to determine the therapy’s effectiveness. There was a high success rate (79%) of subjects successfully completing training.



[PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE


Effectiveness Of A Meditation-Based Stress Reduction Program In The Treatment Of Anxiety Disorders.


Kabat-Zinn J, Massion AO, Kristeller J, Peterson LG, Fletcher KE, Pbert L, Lenderking WR, Santorelli SF.


Department of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester 01605.



This study was designed to determine the effectiveness of a group stress reduction program based on mindfulness meditation for patients with anxiety disorders.


The 22 study participants were screened with a structured clinical interview and found to meet the DSM-III-R criteria for generalized anxiety disorder or panic disorder with or without agoraphobia. Assessments, including self-ratings and therapists’ ratings, were obtained weekly before and during the meditation-based stress reduction and relaxation program and monthly during the 3-month follow-up period.


Repeated measures analyses of variance documented significant reductions in anxiety and depression scores after treatment for 20 of the subjects–changes that were maintained at follow-up. The number of subjects experiencing panic symptoms was also substantially reduced. A comparison of the study subjects with a group of nonstudy participants in the program who met the initial screening criteria for entry into the study showed that both groups achieved similar reductions in anxiety scores on the SCL-90-R and on the Medical Symptom Checklist, suggesting generalizability of the study findings.


A group mindfulness meditation training program can effectively reduce symptoms of anxiety and panic and can help maintain these reductions in patients with generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, or panic disorder with agoraphobia.



Aust Fam Physician. 1978 Jul;7(7):905-10.


Self-hypnosis training in anxiety reduction.

Davidson GP, Farnbach RW, Richardson BA.


Twenty three adult patients with problems of anxiety in a suburban general practice were invited to participate in a study to determine the effectiveness of self-hypnosis training in reducing anxiety levels. In an initial interview (T1), Experimenter 1 gave subjects two C-60 cassette tapes for home use. These contained the voice of Experimenter 2 who was unknown to the subjects, instructing them in self-hypnosis. After six weeks (T2), measures by Experimenter 1 of both psychological anxiety and blood pressure showed significant reduction (with the exception of systolic blood pressure), and in some cases subjects reduced their anxiolytic medication. A follow-up nine months later of as many subjects as were available (12) showed that these desirable effects were still detectable to a significant degree. It is suggested that audiotaped training in self-hypnosis represent a valid non-pharmacological method for anxiety reduction.




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