Indications and Procedures (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Stress can exacerbate difficulties in daily functioning, slow recovery from mental or physical problems, and impede immunological functioning. Stress reduction techniques represent a cluster of procedures that share the goal of reducing bodily and emotional tension: drug and physical therapies, exercise, biofeedback training, meditation, hypnosis, psychotherapy, relaxation training, and stress inoculation therapy.
The drugs used in stress reduction are designed to provide overall bodily relaxation, to induce rest, or to decrease the anxious thinking that exacerbates stressful experiences. Sedatives, tranquilizers, benzodiazepines, antihistamines, beta-blockers, and barbiturates are examples of such drugs. Similarly, physical therapies and exercise are recommended for these purposes. Baths (hydrotherapy), massages, and moderate exercise can also be part of a stress reduction program.
Psychotherapy is a common treatment for stress implemented by psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, psychiatric nurses, and counselors. Not only does it help individuals to sort out their problems mentally but it is also an effective stress management strategy. When individuals analyze their lifestyles and life events, stress-inducing behaviors and life patterns can be explored and targeted for modification.
Biofeedback training, meditation, hypnosis, and relaxation training all focus on inducing relaxation or...
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Uses and Complications (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Individuals should not apply stress reduction procedures without proper consultation; medical conditions that might be causing symptoms should be assessed or ruled out first. Biofeedback training for headaches, for example, would be unwarranted until other, more serious causes of headaches had been eliminated from consideration. Similarly, exercise, drug, and physical therapies could actually worsen conditions such as high blood pressure, alcohol and drug problems, and chronic pain if applied incorrectly. For example, where stress or pain is chronic, drug therapies might encourage the development of drug dependence.
Instead, skilled providers should administer these procedures. Training via self-help materials alone or by an unskilled provider may provide no benefit or create difficulties. Poor training could result in frustration, hypervigilance, heightened anxiety, depression, or pain caused by overattention to symptoms or conflicts. In fact, some individuals are prone to these effects even with good training. Therefore, ongoing assessment is necessary. Finally, interpretation of any memories provoked by hypnosis should be done with caution because of the suggestibility that is characteristic of hypnotic states.
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Perspective and Prospects (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Stress reduction techniques evolved from ancient meditation practices and simpler methods of pain management predating the development of modern anesthetics. The palliative and preventive effects of these techniques have given these procedures a sure hold in future medical practice, while benefits such as decreased absenteeism and increased feelings of wellness in employees have secured these strategies in the workplace. The expanded use of stress reduction procedures in prenatal care and with the elderly is likely.
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For Further Information: (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Davis, Martha, Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman, and Matthew McKay. The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook. 5th ed. Oakland, Calif.: New Harbinger, 2000. Provides guidance for different stress management techniques.
Humphrey, James H. Stress Among Older Adults: Understanding and Coping. Springfield, Ill.: Charles C Thomas, 1992. A rich overview of general and geriatric stress management issues and techniques.
Manning, George, Kent Curtis, and Steve McMillen. Stress: Living and Working in a Changing World. Duluth, Minn.: Whole Person Associates, 1999. Road rage and workplace violence are but two of the more obvious symptoms of increasingly stressful times. Manning and his partners have put together this comprehensive manual to show individuals how to manage stress and help managers, counselors, and teachers develop programs that reduce stress.
Newton, Tim, with Jocelyn Handy and Stephen Fineman. Managing Stress: Emotion and Power at Work. Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage, 1996. This book addresses job stress and offers stress management techniques for coping with it. Includes a bibliography and an index.
Pelletier, Kenneth. The Best Alternative Medicine. New York: Fireside, 2002. Explains mind/body medicine, herbal and homeopathic remedies, spiritual healing, and traditional Chinese systems, and discusses their effectiveness, the ailments each is most...
(The entire section is 280 words.)
Stress Reduction (Encyclopedia of Medicine)
Stress is the body's normal response to anything that disturbs its natural physical, emotional, or mental balance. Stress reduction refers to various strategies that counteract this response and produce a sense of relaxation and tranquility
Although stress is a natural phenomenon of living, stress that is not controlled and that continues for a long period of time can seriously compromise health. For this reason, stress must be understood, managed and appropriately reduced. Several very different strategies and therapies are available that help with relaxation and stress management.
Stress reduction can only present a problem if an individual attributes an actual, serious condition or disease to being simply a stress-related response and avoids consulting a physician.
Everyone encounters stress every day. Although most people think of it as something negative that happens to them, in fact stress itself is really neither good nor bad but is neutral or nonspecific. Stress may be internal (from within ourselves) or external (such as noise from the environment) and does not always result from something unpleasant. A certain amount of stress in our lives is actually essential to being...
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