Massage therapy for anxiety and depression.

Over the years since its creation, researchers at the Touch Research Institute investigated massage therapy, and applied it to all manners of specific clinical conditions and populations to see what worked.

Individual studies examined the effects of massage therapy on infant growth and development, postoperative pain, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, back pain, migraine headache, multiple sclerosis, autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, chronic fatigue, depression, diabetes, asthma, and cancer. In addition to several condition- and population-specific effects, the institute review asserts the existence of a set of more general massage effects that were consistently observed across the individual studies. These effects were reductions of anxiety and depression.

Massage therapy
Photo Credit: Nick J Webb via Flickr

Quantitative research reviews show that a series of therapeutic massage treatments consistently produces sizable reductions of depression in adult recipients. The effects of massage therapy on anxiety are even better understood. Single sessions of massage therapy significantly reduce state anxiety, the momentary emotional experiences of apprehension, tension, and worry in both adults and in children, and multiple sessions of massage therapy, performed over a period of days or weeks, significantly reduce trait anxiety, the normally stable individual tendency to experience anxiety states, to an impressive degree in adults.

Affective Massage Therapy
International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork, 2008; 1(2): 3–5.

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