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Benefits of Massage Therapy for Anxiety

Anxiety is a normal feeling. We all feel worried or anxious in our lives, but when the amount we worry becomes disproportionate it may lead to an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are common, affecting about 12% of the population. Anxiety disorders are a group of conditions that cause ongoing stress and worry. Types of anxiety disorders include panic attacks, obsessive compulsive disorder and social or generalized anxiety disorder. Depending on the type of anxiety disorder people often have several of the following symptoms: feelings of fear, nervousness or panic, sleep problems, difficulty staying calm or still, shortness of breath or breathing quickly, increased heart rate and blood pressure, upset stomach or diarrhea, inability to concentrate, headache and muscle tension1.

The causes of anxiety disorders are complex and include genetic factors, psychological factors such as how a person has learned to deal with anxiety producing situations, and social factors such as loss of a job or loved one. Together these factors can interact and contribute to the development of an anxiety disorder2.

How Massage Can Help

Anxiety disorders can negatively affect people’s quality of life, and unfortunately many people don’t seek help for their anxiety3. Studies have shown that massage therapy can help manage many of the physical symptoms of anxiety such as decreasing blood pressure, decreasing heart rate, lessening muscle tension and headaches4. Studies have also shown that massage can help decrease the psychological feelings associated with anxiety, or their perceived anxiety5,6

Massage therapy is a safe and effective treatment to alleviate both the physical and psychological symptoms of anxiety disorders. 

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2. Shri, R. Anxiety: Causes and Management. The Journal of Behavioural Sciences. 2010 Vol 5 (1) 100-118. Accessed

3. Shri, R. Anxiety: Causes and Management. The Journal of Behavioural Sciences. 2010 Vol 5 (1) 100-118. Accessed

4. Goats, G. Massage – “The Scientific Basis of an Ancient Art: Part 2. Physiological and Therapeutic Effects.” British Journal of Sports Medicine, vol 28 no. 3, 1994. Accessed

5. Ashton JC, Bousquet D, Fevrier E, Yip R, Chaudhry S, Port E, Margolies LR. Massage therapy in the breast imaging department: repurposing an ancient anxiety reducing method. Clinical Imaging. 2020 (67):49-54. Accessed

6. Marques AP., Matsutani LA., Yuan SL. Effectiveness of different styles of massage therapy in fibromyalgia: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Manual Therapy. 2015 April20(2):257-64. Accessed