Stress & Anxiety – Mind Body Strategies

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Hypnotherapy/Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Patient QI found a newly published preliminary study that evaluated a combined Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, self-management, relaxation techniques (diaphragmatic breathing and progressive muscle relaxation), mindful exercises (Qigong and Yoga), Aromatherapy and acupressure treatment for stress, anxiety and depression in primary school teachers. Results showed that the treatment group had significantly reduced anxiety, depression and stress when compared to a control group.


Patient Qi found two recently published studies that demonstrated the beneficial effects of Yoga in reducing symptoms related to stress and anxiety. The first study was carried out by a group in Brazil. Family members who care for Alzheimer’s patients suffer from high levels of stress, anxiety, depression and reduced quality of life. The study compared a treatment of 8 weeks of yoga and compassion meditation with a no treatment control group.  Results showed that not only did the treatment group show a reduction in stress, anxiety and depression but that the salivary cortisol (stress hormone) levels were also reduced.

The second study was carried out in Sweden and evaluated a medical yoga treatment in patients with stress-related symptoms in primary health care. Patients that were included in the study had been diagnosed with one or more of the following: stress, burnout, insomnia, anxiety and depression. Patients were treated with medical yoga for 1 hour, once a week, for 12-weeks. Results showed improvement in overall health, reduced levels of stress, and in anxiety, compared to controls


A study carried out in Hong Kong evaluated the effects of Qigong on the symptoms of fatigue, anxiety and depression that Chronic Fatigue sufferers experience. The treatment group had Qigong training twice a week for five weeks followed by twelve weeks of Qigong carried out at home.  Results were compared to a waitlist control group.  The Qigong group showed reduced total fatigue, physical fatigue and depression with a slight improvement in mental fatigue but no clear change in anxiety symptoms.

However, a study carried out in Korea compared the results of a 4 week Qigong stress reduction treatment program against a control group and found that the Qigong group had significantly larger decreases in perceived stress, anger and anxiety than the control group.


Meditation is often a component of other therapies such as yoga or it is used alongside other mind body therapies.  Patient QI found a study that evaluated the benefits of meditation in students with emotional and attention/concentration problems. The treatment group followed a six week focused meditation training program and were compared to a relaxation group and a wait list group. The meditation group showed improvements in attention regulation and reduced emotional interference compared to both the control and the relaxation groups.


Aromatherapy is one of the therapies that is being researched extensively at the moment and Patient QI found three recent studies relevant to the treatment of stress and anxiety.  A collaboration between a US University and a Chinese group looked at whether aromatherapy has an effect on human metabolism and found there are subtle metabolic changes that result from exposure to essential oils. The metabolic alterations in the urine of females with mild anxiety were measured. Anti-anxiety effects were seen as effects on carbohydrates in the urine, on the anxiolytic myoinositol and on the gut microbial populations and their metabolism (stress and anxiety are strongly related to gastrointestinal problems).

Another study showed that aromatherapy treatment of patients being treated for coronary interventions in an intensive care unit significantly lowered anxiety and improved sleep quality compared with conventional nursing intervention.

Finally, an interesting study looked at the effect of aromatherapy on children’s anxiety when undergoing dental treatment. Children age 6-9 years had two dental visits, one with treatment using orange essential oil and the other with no aromatherapy treatment. Salivary cortisol levels and pulse rates were taken before and after treatment for both visits as a measure of the degree of anxiety. The orange oil treatment visit showed clear reduction in cortisol levels and pulse rates compared to the no aromatherapy visit for each individual child.

Massage therapy 

Patient QI found several studies that showed that massage therapy was beneficial in cases of anxiety and depression in various groups of patients. One study showed clear benefits in cancer patients with stress and anxiety. A further study showed clear benefits of chair massage for patients undergoing withdrawal from alcohol or drugs and a final study showed that massage is an effective treatment in patients with GAD (General Anxiety Disorder).


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