How Massage Can Help Alleviate Anxiety
Do you have intense, persistent, and excessive worry about everyday situations? You may have an anxiety disorder. Many people with anxiety disorders have repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear that peak within minutes (known as panic attacks).
The ongoing worry and tension may be accompanied by physical symptoms such as muscle tension, chest pain, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, dizziness, or abdominal distress.
Side Effects of Anxiety
Anxiety is one the most common mental disorders in the country. It affects 40 million adults or around 18 percent of the country’s population. Anxiety disorders are more common in women than men. An anxiety disorder usually develops gradually but can manifest at any age (usually between childhood and middle age).
Anxiety can negatively impact every aspect of a person’s life and have significant, far-reaching effects on health. They affect the functioning of various systems within our body, including the cardiovascular system, excretory and digestive systems, central nervous system, and immune system.
Anxiety symptoms can interfere with daily activities. No wonder many people with anxiety disorders report a low quality of life.
Some factors that may increase a person’s risk of developing an anxiety disorder include substance abuse, stress buildup, and trauma. People who have other mental disorders such as depression usually also have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders can also run in the family.
We are yet to understand the causes of anxiety disorders completely. Children exposed to traumatic life events such as abuse, who have been in a car accident, or who witness school violence are at high risk of developing an anxiety disorder. Adults who experience a traumatic life event can also develop an anxiety disorder.
Studies associate some medical problems with anxiety. Typical examples include diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disorders such as asthma and COPD, tumors that produce fight or flight hormones, and thyroid problems. In some cases, anxiety is a side effect of certain medications.
Some common anxiety symptoms include heightened alertness, feelings of panic, dread or impending doom, trembling, elevated heart rate, insomnia, excessive sweating, and gastrointestinal problems.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
Some different types of anxiety disorders include agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder, selective mutism, social anxiety disorder or social phobia, substance-induced anxiety disorder, and separation anxiety disorder.
How Dangerous Is Untreated Anxiety?
Untreated anxiety can increase your risk of more severe, even life-threatening conditions. People with untreated anxiety are highly prone to depression. People with anxiety often have suicidal thoughts and are at increased risk for addiction to various substances.
Massage Therapy for Anxiety Disorders
Many people with anxiety disorders turn to massage therapy to manage their condition. In massage therapy, a therapist manipulates the stressed muscles by kneading, patting, or pressing different muscle groups.
Massage therapists use aromatherapy oils and tranquil music to help create a calm and relaxing environment. Studies suggest that massage can reduce anxiety in people with chronic pain, cancer patients, stroke patients, and in people with congestive heart failure.
A study found that a 60-minute massage can lower cortisol (a stress hormone) levels by up to 30 percent. Another study reported that participants who received massage therapy for 12 weeks experienced a 50 percent reduction in anxiety symptoms.
These benefits weren’t short-lived. Symptom reduction remained at 50 percent after 26 weeks, even after the therapy had ended.
Benefits of Massage Therapy
Massage therapy is known to have a very calming effect on the body and mind. Your massage therapist may incorporate massage therapy into your treatment plan.
An experienced therapist applies pressure at strategic points to alleviate common anxiety symptoms, including muscle tension and sleep disturbances. This therapy helps the body relax, which can help you let go of anxious and fearful thoughts. Massage can also relieve tension and muscle pain, improve circulation, and increase flexibility.
People with anxiety disorders experience the flight-or-fight response or acute stress response. During the stress response, many physiological changes occur. Your heart rate and blood pressure may increase, your skin may turn pale, your pupils will dilate, memories can be affected, or your bladder might be affected.
The fight-or-flight reaction causes fearful thoughts and reactions. Many people with agoraphobia, for instance, fear having a panic attack in public or a confined area. Massage therapy can help tame the fight-or-flight response.
When performed by an experienced and skilled massage therapist, massage therapy does not have any significant side effects. Some people experience some soreness throughout their body; however, discomfort caused by massage therapy is usually temporary.
Finding a Massage Therapist
Many clinics offer massage therapy with certified and experienced therapists. Our practice, Optimal Health Spine & Wellness Clinic, is a top-rated massage clinic. We take a holistic approach to wellness, using massage therapy to stabilize and strengthen different body parts. Call us if you are looking for massage therapy in Burien. To schedule an appointment, call 206-241-3836.