During a psychiatric field placement, it was noted by this nurse researcher that patients with a diagnosis of depression often overtly displayed symptoms of anxiety. A brief literature review revealed that this anxiety-depression duality occurred frequently.

The purpose of this study was to determine if relaxation therapy was a therapeutic intervention which could be utilized by nurses to provide relief from the symptoms of the anxiety-depression syndrome. This was a clinical, quasi-experimental research investigation. The sample was chosen by a purposive, non-random selection of 20 experimental and 10 control subjects who were hospitalized with a diagnosis of depression in an acute care psychiatric facility. Each subject was pretested utilizing the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. The experimental group then engaged in six sessions of relaxation therapy, the morning and evening of three consecutive days. All subjects in both groups were post-tested for levels of anxiety at the end of the third day.

The major supposition in this study was that there would be a significant decrease in anxiety in the experimental group, which received the relaxation therapeutic intervention, as compared to the control group, which received no treatment intervention. Minor suppositions were that levels of anxiety, diagnosis, age, sex, and medications would influence the study outcome.

Statistical analysis of the research data revealed that subjects who engaged in the relaxation therapeutic intervention series showed a significant decrease in state anxiety as compared to the control subjects who did not participate in the relaxation series. Age and sex were not significant factors in state anxiety change scores in this research, indicating that subjects of both sexes, and all ages from 18 to 65 years may benefit from this therapy. Diagnosis was a significant factor. Psychotically depressed patients demonstrated a greater decrease in anxiety than did neurotically depressed patients or those with a deferred diagnosis of depression. Level of pretest state anxiety was a significant factor. High level pretest anxiety subjects displayed greater pre- to post-anxiety reduction than did low level pretest anxiety subjects. Medications, although a useful criterion for sample selection, proved to be a statistically inefficient factor to measure in this research study.

From these findings it was concluded that for the group of subjects studied the intervention of progressive muscle relaxation therapy appeared to be an effective method of reducing anxiety in depressed patients. This method may have useful anxiety-reducing effects in other populations in the health care field. A major, unmeasured positive aspect of this therapy is that unlike the passivity of taking medications, progressive muscle relaxation, chosen for this study, required active engagement of the patient in the actual treatment. This could serve to increase the patient's sense of responsibility, mastery and control in the treatment situation.

LLU Discipline





Graduate School

First Advisor

Nancy S. Testerman

Second Advisor

L. Frances Pride

Third Advisor

Kathryn Dillon

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Relaxation Techniques; Anxiety; Depression



Page Count

x; 115

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives