What is it?
Relaxation therapy is a behavioral therapy used to relieve psychological stress and fatigue. It can be guided by a therapist or trainer or practiced alone.
Stress might increase nervous system activity, which could have a negative effect on certain conditions. Relaxation therapy might decrease nervous system activity, slow heart rate, lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, and improve mood in people with certain conditions.
People use relaxation therapy for stress, fatigue, anxiety, depression, chest pain, headache, fibromyalgia, and many other purposes, but there is no good scientific evidence to support many of these uses.
Don’t confuse relaxation therapy with guided imagery, mantra meditation, mindfulness, tai chi, or yoga. These are not the same.
Possibly Effective for …
- Chest pain (angina). Relaxation therapy seems to reduce how often people with angina have chest pain. It might also improve their ability to exercise.
- Anxiety. Relaxation therapy might somewhat reduce anxiety. But it might not work as well as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or meditation.
- Depression. Relaxation therapy seems to reduce symptoms of depression in some people. But it doesn’t seem to work as well as other treatments, such as CBT.
- A type of persistent anxiety marked by exaggerated worry and tension (generalized anxiety disorder or GAD). Relaxation therapy seems to reduce symptoms of GAD, and it seems to work as well as CBT.
- High blood pressure. Relaxation therapy seems to reduce blood pressure by a small amount in people with high blood pressure.
There is interest in using relaxation therapy for a number of other purposes, but there isn’t enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy: Relaxation therapy is likely safe to use while pregnant. There are no known safety concerns.
Breast-feeding: There isn’t enough reliable information to know if relaxation therapy is safe to use when breast-feeding. But there’s no reason to expect safety concerns.
Information on this website is for informational use only and is not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. While evidence-based, it is not guaranteed to be error-free and is not intended to meet any particular user’s needs or requirements or to cover all possible uses, safety concerns, interactions, outcomes, or adverse effects. Always check with your doctor or other medical professional before making healthcare decisions (including taking any medication) and do not delay or disregard seeking medical advice or treatment based on any information displayed on this website.
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