US study suggests relaxation makes some worriers more anxious

October 16, 2019

A new study by Pennsylvania State University (Penn State), US, highlighted that relaxation exercises – aimed at reducing anxiety – has the opposite effect in some people. The mechanism behind relaxation-induced anxiety is yet unclear, but in this case, Professor Michelle Newman, of the Psychology Department at Penn State, suspects that relaxation conflicts with continual worrying – a habit these people have developed to lessen the impact of negative events.

In the study, the researchers sought to bring about relaxation through videos that were intended to elicit fear or sadness and later, questionnaires/surveys were given to participants to gauge their responses.

Of the 96 college students who participated, including 32 participants with generalised anxiety disorder and 34 with major depressive disorder, students with generalised anxiety disorder were observed to be most sensitive to extreme emotional shifts, and tended to feel the most anxiety while practicing relaxation techniques.

Hanjoo Kim, a graduate student in psychology at Penn State, said that those who are most vulnerable to relaxation-induced anxiety were usually stressed and needed more relaxation themselves.

According to the Professor’s supposed theory, “People may make themselves anxious intentionally, as a way to avoid the letdown they might get if something bad were to happen.” However, it may be healthier to let oneself to be relaxed at times.

“Mindfulness training and other interventions can help people let go and live in the moment,” she said.


Category: Education, Features

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