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Massage therapy calms anxiety disorder

Aug 02,2016

In the first ever study of massage as a stand-alone treatment for anxiety, researchers uncovered significant benefits.

The research, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, compared twice-weekly Swedish massage to light touch over a six-week period for people with generalised anxiety disorder GAD. Therapy sessions lasted 45 minutes and improvements in anxiety were assessed by both the patients and their practitioners.

Swedish massage therapy – a traditional form of deep-tissue massage – appeared to be the most effective in reducing anxiety, the researchers found.

In contrast, light touch therapy – the practice of gently placing hands on different parts of someone’s body to ‘release energy’ – didn’t show as significant an effect on the participants’ anxiety levels.

Rapid results

Researchers found as early as session five that those who received Swedish massage showed greater improvement of anxiety symptoms than those who received light touch. There was also a decrease in depression symptoms among those who received massage.

People with GAD experience constant anxiety, with fearful and worrisome thoughts clouding their mind at all hours of the day – often for weeks or months on end.

These thoughts are often difficult to escape and can leave GAD sufferers feeling drained, fatigued, or with long-term stomach pain or muscle tension.