Anxiety disorders affect almost 7 million American adults–about twice as many women as men. Anxiety comes on gradually, typically between childhood and middle age. A Surgeon General’s report on Mental Health revealed that 16% of adults between the ages of 18 and 54 suffer from various anxiety disorders for at least one year.
Causes of anxiety
The causes of anxiety are many, which is one of the reasons it’s so common. Anxiety is produced when you are overly concerned about relationship or job issues, many, your health, and lots more. These concerns blend into negative, fearful thoughts about the future or debilitating guilt about the past.
Symptoms of anxiety can include muscle tension/aches, fatigue, headaches, difficulty swallowing, twitching, irritability, sweating, nausea, lightheadedness, frequent urination, hot flashes and shortness of breath. Moments of anxiety are common and natural. It’s when the anxiety persists, or somehow affects your daily life, that you should seek means to treat it.
“Multiple sessions of massage therapy, performed over a period of days or weeks, significantly reduce trait anxiety, the normally stable individual tendency to experience anxiety states, to an impressive degree in adults.” Int J Ther Massage Bodywork. 2008
Massage can help
No benefit of massage therapy has been studied more than the effects of focused massage on the reduction of anxiety and depression. Study after study has proven significant benefits in reducing the impact of symptoms and actually getting people back to a more stable emotional state. While massage is not a cure for anxiety, but it certainly helps.
Perhaps one of the main reasons massage is so effective in reducing depression and anxiety is the simplest one–massage can be very relaxing. Massage is safe when practiced by a licensed and trained professional. It can reduce blood pressure and help you sleep. Massage can help break down built-up toxins or waste in the muscles. Relaxation is a very important component in treating both anxiety and depression, as well as overall pain management.
Like any other wellness activity, reduction of anxiety and the related persistent pains and tension may require several sessions to be effective, so don’t expect immediate results.
If you have a diagnosed anxiety disorder, it’s a good idea to first consult a primary care physician before scheduling your appointment massage therapy. If massage is approved or recommended, find a professional massage therapist who is properly certified and trained and schedule a visit. You’ll be happier for it!
Moyer. Affective massage therapy. Int J Ther Massage Bodywork. 2008. PubMed #21589715.
Two general effects [of massage, MT] are well-supported by scientific data and widely agreed-upon by MT researchers. Quantitative research reviews show that a series of MT treatments consistently produces sizable reductions of depression in adult recipients. The effects of MT on anxiety are even better understood. Single sessions of MT significantly reduce state anxiety, the momentary emotional experiences of apprehension, tension, and worry in both adults and in children, and multiple sessions of MT, performed over a period of days or weeks, significantly reduce trait anxiety, the normally stable individual tendency to experience anxiety states, to an impressive degree in adults.
Together, these effects on anxiety and depression are the most well-established effects in the MT research literature. They are especially important for us to understand not only for their own sake, but also because anxiety and depression exacerbate many other specific health problems. In other words, it is reasonable to theorize that quite a few specific health benefits associated with MT may actually be “second-order” effects that are a consequence of MT’s “first-order” effects on anxiety and depression.