Researchers investigated the effectiveness of two approaches to anxiety-meditation and self-hypnosis in 32 patients with long term and severe anxiety.
A simple, meditational relaxation technique that causes relaxes the body and lowers the activity of the sympathetic nervous system was compared to hypnosis. The groups were divided into 3 based on their response to hypnosis moderate-high and low.
The group members were there randomly assigned either self-hypnosis or meditation. Four treatment groups were then evaluated low response-self hypnosis; moderate –high response self hypnosis; moderate-high response meditation; low response meditation.
The low response group by definition could not achieve the altered perceptions that are a necessary component of self-hypnosis, was designated as the control group. The patients were directed to practice their assigned technique on a daily basis.
Their anxiety was measured and determined by three separate evaluations: psychiatric assessment, physiologic measurement and self-assessment.
There was essentially no difference between the two techniques in therapeutic efficacy according to these evaluations. Psychiatric assessment revealed overall improvement in 34% of the patients and the self-rating assessment indicated improvement in 63% of the population.
Patients experiencing moderate-high hypnotic responsivity, regardless of the technique used, significantly improved on psychiatric assessment and decreased average blood pressure measurements from 126.1 to 122.5 mm Hg over the 8-week period. The responsivity scores at the higher end of the hypnotic responsivity spectrum were proportionately related larger drops in the blood pressure and to improvement by psychiatric assessment.
There was, however, no consistent relation between hypnotic responsivity and the other assessments made, such as diastolic blood pressure, oxygen consumption, heart rate and the self-rating questionnaires. The meditation and self-hypnosis techniques used in this investigation are easy to use and effective in the therapy of anxiety.