Relaxation to fight anxiety. Here’s a trick that, in theory, works for everyone. However, sometimes relaxation does not have the desired effect and may even worsen the state of anxiety.
In question, a counter-intuitive coping mechanism : Some people who are naturally anxious would tend to resist relaxation and continue to worry in order to avoid being caught off guard. We are talking aboutrelaxation-induced anxiety.
In a new study, researchers at Penn State University (United States) have found that people who are more sensitive to changes in emotions (from a state of relaxation to fear, for example), are more likely to feel anxious when performing relaxation exercises.
“The theory revolves around the idea that people can be intentionally anxious in order to avoid disappointment they might feel if something bad happens.”, Detailed Michelle Newman, professor of psychology and co-author of the study. “It doesn’t help at all and it makes you unhappy. But since most things you worry about never happen, the idea that’s reinforced in the brain is: ‘I got worried and it didn’t happen so I should keep worrying ‘”, added the researcher. It is also a bit like a person who has always lived with allergies and who would one day wake up without any allergies: they would panic and wonder what “is wrong” with them.
The study was conducted here among 96 students, 32 of whom had major depressive disorder t 34, and 30 who had no such disorder. Participants engaged in relaxation exercises and then watched videos that may cause fear or sadness. The students then answered questions designed to measure their sensitivity to changes in emotional state. A second relaxation session was undertaken, followed by a questionnaire measuring anxiety.
This is how researchers found that people with generalized anxiety disorder were moresensitive to changes innegative emotions, and more anxious during relaxation sessions. A similar, although less strong effect has been observed in people with depression.
The authors of the study, published in the JJournal of Affective Disorders, hope that this study will help practitioners to better deal with anxious people, in whom relaxation is clearly not bearing fruit. The researchers evoke in particular mindfulness or desensitization to changes in emotions.
Source: Penn State News