Exploratory study to decrease postprandial anxiety: Just relax!

Jennifer R. Shapiro, Emily M. Pisetsky, Wen Crenshaw, Shanna Spainhour, Robert M. Hamer, Maureen Dymek-Valentine, Cynthia M. Bulik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objective: Critical first steps in the treatment of anorexia nervosa (AN) include re-nutrition and weight restoration, both highly anxiety provoking for patients. We explored the impact of progressive muscle relaxation (PMR), guided imagery (GI), self-directed relaxation (SR), and control (C) on reducing postprandial anxiety in 64 females with AN. Method: Participants began the study upon hospital admission. They received relaxation training after lunch for 15 days. Pre- and post-session anxiety and treatment acceptability ratings were made daily. Results: Although all conditions improved relaxation and decreased anxiety, feelings of fullness, and thoughts about weight, the three active conditions significantly reduced anxiety and increased relaxation more than C (p < .0001). Participants significantly enjoyed the three active treatments, were more likely to recommend them to a friend, and were more likely to use either PMR or GI again versus C (p < .0001). Conclusion: Relaxation may be a valuable component for reducing postprandial anxiety in AN.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)728-733
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2008


  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Anxiety
  • Intervention
  • Relaxation


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