Anxiety, Stress & Massage Therapy

Regular massages can significantly reduce stress and anxiety.

According to James Lake, M.D., (a clinical assistant professor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, works to transform mental health care through the evidence-based uses of alternative therapies.) and his article in Psychology Today, Massage alters EEG activity, increases parasympathetic activity and decreases cortisol levels

His article continues: Massage is widely used in all cultures to evoke feelings of deep relaxation and reduced anxiety. The anxiety-reducing and mood-enhancing benefits of massage are probably related to changes in EEG activity, decreased levels of cortisol, and increased activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, which acts automatically to calm the body and brain during stress. Numerous studies show that moderate pressure massage is more effective than light pressure massage for reducing pain associated with different medical problems including fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. Moderate pressure massage also improves attention and enhances the body’s immune response by increasing the activity of natural killer cells. Functional brain imaging studies show that changes take place in many areas of the brain involved in regulating emotions and stress response including the amygdala and the hypothalamus. For an excellent review of the research evidence for massage therapy see “Massage Therapy Research Review” by Field (Field 2014).

Challenges to designing studies on massage

It is difficult to examine the beneficial effects of massage therapy using contemporary research methods because it is impossible to design a double-blind study in which the person receiving massage therapy is ‘blinded’ to treatment. Also, the physical and psychological benefits of massage are difficult to quantify in controlled trials. Findings of many studies are limited by the absence of a sham control group i.e., a group treated by someone who poses as a massage therapist but has no training. The situation is further complicated by the fact that few massage therapists are trained in research methods or work in institutional settings where sham-controlled trials can be conducted.

Massage is widely used for anxiety and has a strong record of success

In spite of the paucity of published research evidence, regular massage is a widely used technique in many cultures to treat chronic stress and anxiety and deserves serious consideration. Consistent anecdotal evidence, a long history of widespread use of massage for stress reduction, and positive findings of open trials support the view that regular massage therapy reduces the severity of chronic moderate anxiety in general, and specifically when anxiety is related to test-taking or problem-solving, work stress or the anticipation of invasive medical procedures.

In my own clinical experience working with patients who complain of chronic stress, test-taking stress, and generalized anxiety, regular massage therapy effectively reduces anxiety, improves emotional resilience, and enhances feelings of general well-being in anxious patients.

Few safety issues

Massage is safe when done by a trained therapist, seldom resulting in injuries. However, individuals who have chronic pain disorders or other medical conditions that involve the musculoskeletal system should consult with their physician before receiving regular massage therapy. 

References

Anxiety: The Integrative Mental Health Solution, by James Lake MD http://theintegrativementalhealthsolution.com/anxiety-the-integrative-mental-health-soution.html

Massage Therapy Research Review, Field 2014 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5467308/

Original Article Here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/integrative-mental-health-care/201810/massage-therapy-anxiety-and-stress

Ease Anxiety with Massage Therapy

Complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) are unconventional types of products and practices that are being used to treat a variety of medical and mental health conditions.

Over the past several years, CAM practices have grown in popularity and are often used in combination with more traditional medical practices. Some common CAM practices include acupuncture, yoga, and aromatherapy.

Massage therapy is a type of CAM practice that is often used to treat muscle pain, injury, and stiffness. Massage therapy has more recently been used for the treatment of mental and emotional problems, including stress, anxiety, and even depression. Also considered a relaxation technique, massage therapy may be able to help reduce tension and elicit feelings of calm and deep relaxation.

Additionally, massage may be able to curb feelings of fear and anxiety, plus assist in managing other panic disorder symptoms.

Massage Therapy Can Help Ease Anxiety and Panic Disorder Symptoms

Massage therapy can help the body relax, which in turn can help one let go of anxious and fearful thoughts. Massage can relieve muscle pain and tension, improve circulation, and increase flexibility. As a relaxation technique, massage therapy can work to manage the fight-or-flight response, or stress reaction, that is typically overactive among people with anxiety disorders.

The fight-or-flight reaction is responsible for causing fearful thoughts and reactions that often far outweigh any actual threat in the environment. For example, people with agoraphobia often fear having a panic attack in a large crowd or confined areas where it would feel embarrassing or difficult to escape.

The fight-or-flight reaction typically leads to uncomfortable physical symptoms, such as shortness of breath, accelerated heart rate, excessive sweating, and chest pain. Massage therapy can have an opposing effect on the body by eliciting the relaxation response, reducing tension, lowering heart rate, and generally making a person feel calmer.

Physical Benefits of Massage

  • Less muscle pain and tension
  • Improved circulation and flexibility
  • Lower heart rate

Mental Benefits of Massage

  • Less anxious thoughts
  • Tamed fight-or-flight response
  • Lower tension and more feelings of calm

Getting Started with Massage Therapy

When meeting with your massage therapist for the first time, make sure to discuss your medical history, including your panic and anxiety symptoms.

It is important to schedule these services with a licensed or certified massage therapist. This ensures that you will get treatment from a qualified practitioner who has followed the standards and requirements for their state licensure.

Let the massage therapist know if you have any areas of discomfort throughout your body. Also discuss what you hope to get out of the massage, such as muscle or stress relief. Many people experience some soreness throughout their body the first few days following a massage. However, you should never feel pain or discomfort during or after a massage. Massage is also contraindicated for certain medical conditions. Always consult your doctor before getting a massage if you are unsure if it’s right for you.

Studies have supported the safety and effectiveness of utilizing massage therapy for stress, anxiety, and depression—but if you are experiencing panic attacks and other symptoms of panic disorder, talk to your doctor before trying this and other CAM practices.

Ask your doctor how Massage therapy could be incorporated into your standard treatment plan to assist you in coping with panic disorder.

Zen Massage

Luxury Massage in Salt Lake City, Utah

(801) 467-3529

5520 South Van Winkle Expy

Salt Lake City, UT 84117

Zen Massage

Source: Therapeutic Massage for Anxiety and Panic Disorder

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