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December 1977

Relaxation Therapy in the Treatment of HypertensionA Review

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford (Calif) University Medical Center.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1977;34(12):1417-1427. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1977.01770240043003

• The literature on the use of relaxation or relaxation-like procedures (relaxation therapy) in the treatment of hypertension was critically reviewed. Relaxation therapy resulted in greater reduction of blood pressure than placebo or other control procedures. A positive relationship was found between the average blood pressure decrease and the average pretreatment pressure. Relaxation-like therapies shared the features of muscular relaxation, regular practice, mental focusing, and task awareness. Research on the relative contributions of these components indicated that task awareness adds to the treatment effect in the laboratory setting, and that regular practice is necessary for optimal results in the clinical setting. The role of muscular relaxation and mental focusing is unclear. We concluded that relaxation therapy may become a useful adjunct to medication in the clinical management of hypertension, especially for individuals whose blood pressures remain high despite pharmacological treatment.