Relaxation technique may have the opposite affect than pacifying certain groups of people. Sounds paradoxical, but is true! A recent study has unveiled that relaxation exercises may adversely affect people with generalized anxiety disorder. Relaxation-induced anxiety isn’t new to the medical community. A theory one of the researchers developed is called ‘contrast avoidance’, which postulates that people consciously keep worrying to avoid disappointment if a bad thing really occurs. Continual worrying, in other words, become their relaxation strategy. Researchers at Penn State University, Pennsylvania, in their study with 96 college students discovered the mechanism.
The psychology behind such a theory, contends researchers, is that most of the things that worry about never happen. So they feel continual worrying is a way to avoid many untoward incidents ahead.
People with Generalized Anxiety Disorder Sensitive to Relaxation Exercises
The respondents of the study comprised 96 college students: 32 participants had generalized anxiety disorder and 34 had major depressive disorder. The remaining respondents acted as the control group for the study.
The researchers made the respondents undergo relaxation exercise. Then they viewed video that could elicit negative emotions such as fear and sadness. At last there was another set of relaxation exercise. The questionnaires revealed that the people with generalized anxiety disorder were most sensitive to relaxation exercise. They were most anxious when they performed relaxation techniques.
Future Studies Should Focus on Strategies to Counter Negative Contrast Sensitivity
Despite this, the researchers concluded that it is this cohort of population who needs relaxation exercise the most. The results of the study are useful for this section of people. The researchers called for further researchers in this direction to discover apt interventions. Future studies should focus on counter strategies for negative contrast sensitivity.