With just over 18% of the population experiencing anxiety, and stress feeling like an unavoidable aspect of modern life, Americans are suffering from a record-breaking rise in anxiety disorders. Find out how massage therapy can help you reduce stress levels and make your anxiety more manageable.
An umbrella term that includes everything from everyday anxiety about public speaking or job interviews all the way up to comorbidity with conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and phobias, anxiety is a serious condition, which can and often does interfere with daily life.
An American Psychiatric Association poll released in 2018 showed a five-point increase over the previous years’ reporting on anxiety rates, further indicating an increasing need for treatment and self-care for those living with anxiety and stress.
For some patients, treatment for anxiety disorders and stress may consist of a single medication prescribed by a family doctor. For others, it may include medication, therapy and other interventions. No matter where you fall on this spectrum, it’s important to note that massage therapy has been shown to have a very real effect on these conditions.
During a massage, areas of the brain tasked with regulating emotions and stress responses do show changes in activity during brain imaging studies. There is an observable effect on these areas of the brain, so scientists and researchers can confirm there is at least some effectiveness in using massage as an adjunctive therapy for anxiety, stress and depression.
It’s no secret massage therapy can ease aches and pains throughout the musculoskeletal system, but it’s also a powerful relaxation technique that has been proven to lower cortisol levels by up to 30%. After massage therapy, patients show lower levels of norepinephrine, along with increased serotonin levels; massage therapy does have an impact on brain chemistry.
Other studies have indicated patients who receive regular massage therapy for 12 weeks show a reduction of up to 50% in anxiety symptoms, with those reductions continuing after massage therapy has ended. Massage therapy can also actively treat the muscle tension and sleep disturbances that often plague those living with anxiety disorders and generalized stress.
For many patients with anxiety, depression and stress-related disorders, working closely with a licensed massage therapist can make a significant difference in symptoms of anxiety, along with a substantial impact on quality of life and an overall sense of wellness. Because it’s a non-invasive therapy that does not include prescription medications, it’s generally considered very low risk.
It is important for patients living with certain medical conditions or recovering from some types of injuries to consult with a physician before beginning a massage therapy regimen. But, it’s overall an incredibly safe and effective treatment for the management of anxiety and stress.
If you’re struggling with the effects of anxiety disorders, depression and excessive stress, therapeutic massage treatment may provide relief.