The Relaxation Response and Reduced Norepinephrine Reactivity
There is growing appreciation both within and outside of the medical community that psychological stress is importantly involved in a variety of disease processes. The interaction of psychological factors and pathophysiology has been most vigorously pursued in relationship to the cardiovascular diseases. Because of this interest, and the accumulating evidence substantiating the link between psychology and cardiovascular diseases, mental health professionals are being increasingly asked to therapeutically intervene in patients with manifest disease or in patients deemed at high risk for such diseases. It is important to acknowledge that there is no implication that patients so referred are in need of traditional psychiatric or psychologic therapy. Rather, there is an implicit assumption that repeated or prolonged exposure to environmental demands, which are perceived as stressful, results in reactions that have an adverse affect on the cardiovascular system. It is reasonable to suggest that some effort at reducing such exposure either by altering environmental characteristics, altering the individual’s perception, or altering reactions is worthwhile and justified. Attending to these considerations, therapeutic interventions have been specifically devised. These interventions usually involve combinations of four strategies: 1) attempts to modify dietary habits, caloric reductions generally, with special efforts to reduce lipids and salt; 2) attempts to modify exercise; 3) attempts to train individuals to relax and or meditate and; 4) attempts at cognitive behavioral therapy. Although all four can be construed as psychological or behavioral interventions, the latter two are more traditionally considered the provience of mental health professionals.
KeywordsPlasma Norepinephrine Relaxation Response Sympathetic Nervous System Activity Transcendental Meditation Beth Israel Hospital
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