Getting a soothing and relaxing massage has long been not only a popular source of unwinding and pleasure after a hard workweek or difficult event, but has also been hailed for its ability to ease symptoms of anxiety. In fact, massage therapy has traditionally been one of the most frequently-used alternatives to medical and psychotherapeutic treatment for anxiety, though issues of access to care and affordability exist. Providing the groundwork for a potential widening of the availability of these therapeutic benefits, a study recently published in the journal Depression and Anxiety has found that similar treatments, such as practicing deep breathing while lying down or receiving thermotherapy through warm towels applied to the limbs, all complimented with low light and soft music, are equally effective in reducing symptoms.
The study split participants into three groups, each of which received one type of treatment. After a twelve week study period in which subjects received ten therapeutic sessions, the researchers found that consistent reports of about a forty percent reduction in anxiety symptoms was experienced in each group, and this effect was amplified to a fifty percent reduction across all groups after a follow-up performed three months later. The research powerfully demonstrates that the process of relaxation itself may be the key component of the reduction of anxiety in alternative treatments, rather than the specific application involved.
As massage therapy can be difficult for some clients to acquire given its cost, the potential for relatively low-cost or free treatments attainable in the home may bring hope to greater numbers of those who suffer from the symptoms of anxiety. Further research, including study performed with a control group receiving no therapeutic treatment, may help cement the known benefits of a wider range of options.
© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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