A recent  study has found  that massage could help treat anxiety and mild depression, due to its effect of reducing cortisol and anxiety symptoms. Researchers conducted a randomized study, focusing on patients with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). People with GAD can experience constant anxiety, with fearful and worrisome thoughts clouding their mind at all hours of the day; often for weeks or months on end. Unable to escape these worrying thoughts, GAD sufferers will often feel drained, fatigued, or develop long-term stomach pain or muscular tension.

While GAD is typically treated with medications, including antidepressants, and in many cases, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.  The researchers wanted to see if therapeutic touch could also have an impact on the disorder.

During the study, the participants were divided into two groups. One was given Swedish Massage therapy twice a week, whilst the other group was given Light Touch Therapy twice a week.  These were performed over the course of six weeks, with each therapy session lasting for 45 minutes.  Treatments were carried out in the identical conditions. Before and after the session, the participants then self-reported on how they were feeling.

The study found that Swedish Massage Therapy appeared to be the most effective in reducing anxiety and depressive symptoms.  Whilst Light Touch Therapy, which is the practice of gently placing hands on different parts of someone’s body to “release energy”, didn’t appear to have as much of an effect on the participants’ anxiety levels.

Dr. Mark Hyman Rapaport, chair of Emory University’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences said in a press release: “These findings are significant and if replicated in a larger study will have important ramifications for patients and providers”

If you suffer from GAD, you too could benefit from the many benefits of therapeutic touch provided my Massage Therapy.  If you would like to chat further to see whether massage can be suitable for you, please feel free to drop us a line or give us a call.


Source: Rapaport M, Schettler P, Larson E, Edwards S, Dunlop B, Rakofsky J, Kinkead B. Acute Swedish Massage Monotherapy Successfully Remediates Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder: A Proof-of-Concept, Randomized Controlled Study. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 2016.