Adding Massage Therapy to Your Anxiety Treatments
If you suffer from anxiety disorders, you're not alone. Thirteen percent of the population lives everyday with persistent anxiety. Massage therapy is a great addition to anxiety treatments.
This anxiety is more than the fear you feel when you have to speak in public. Panic attacks can seem to happen for no reason at all. Anxiety symptoms can be as mild as a general feeling of uneasiness or as severe as paralyzing terror.
Let's take a look at the various types of anxiety conditions you can have and some natural ways to treat them.
Types of Disorders
There are several different kinds of disorders.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by chronic worry that lasts 6 months or more. The worry is not in proportion to the problem and is sometimes accompanied by physical anxiety symptoms.
- trouble sleeping
- muscle tension and twitching
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by repetitive thoughts that occupy your mind and cause you to do repetitive behaviors. People with obsessive-compulsive disorder have persistent anxiety and develop a behavior, like hand washing or hoarding, to relieve that anxiety. The behavior is like a ritual to ensure that whatever the person is anxious about won't happen.
Panic disorder is characterized by crippling fear for no reason. People who have this disorder usually can't predict when or where it will strike. When someone has a panic attack they may feel these physical anxiety symptoms:
- chest pains
- increased heartbeat
- shortness of breath
- light-headedness or dizziness
- sudden change in temperature (hot flashes or chills)
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) occurs as a result of a traumatic experience. We often hear about this condition in reference to war veterans, but it can be experience by anyone who has lived through a terrifying experience. People with PTSD constantly relive these traumatic events in there heads to the point that it interferes with their ability to lead a normal life.
Phobias are irrational fears. These irrational fears often trigger panic attacks.
Many people who suffer from anxiety disorders never seek anxiety treatments. They are highly treatable though with methods like biofeedback, cognitive behavior therapy, medications, relaxation techniques, and massage.
Massage for Anxiety
When you experience anxiety, your body produces a lot of the stress hormone cortisol. Massage lowers cortisol levels. It also gets rid of the muscle tension caused by anxiety disorders.
In 1996 the Touch Research Institute did a study with 26 adults. For the study half the adults were given chair massages two times a week for 15 minutes and the control group sat in a massage chair but didn't receive a massage 2 times a week for 15 minutes. You have to feel sorry for the poor control group.
Before and after the 5 week period their anxiety and depression levels were measured. They were also given saliva tests for cortisol. Then they were given math problems to solve. At the end of the study the people who received massage had lower anxiety and depression levels. Their cortisol levels were lower and they had increased speed and accuracy on the math problems.
Relaxation massages are best for treating anxiety, but you can try just about any type of massage to help calm your nerves. You might want to stay away from deeper more intense bodywork when you're trying to relieve anxiety.
Other Natural Treatment Methods
There are a few herbal remedies that have been effective in treating anxiety disorders. Passion flower, valerian, chamomile and kava. These herbs all have calming effects, but like medications they can have negative side effects. If you're interested in learning more about treating common ailments with herbal remedies click here.
Meditation can help ward off anxiety when you feel it coming on. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Focus your attention on your breath. This will help slow your heart rate and calm your nerves. When you're first starting out meditating on your own can be tricky. These meditation MP3's can help you achieve the mindset required for meditation more easily.
Aromatherapy is soothing and helps calm nervous tension. Essential oils can easily be added to massage oil to calm you down even more than just a plain massage will.
Taking calcium, magnesium, and B vitamins can also help ease anxiety symptoms.