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Panic Disorder and Massage Therapy

Written by sshowalter, FoundHealth.

Massage refers to the manipulation of bodily muscles, tendons, connective tissue, ligaments, and even organs to help promote health often primarily through relaxation.

It is documented that ancient civilizations have used massage for centuries and it is still used in modern day times the world over. Though there are hundreds of types of massage, some of the most common include Acupressure, Ayurvedic, deep tissue, Esalen, medical, reflexology, Shiatsu, stone, Swedish, Thai, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Trigger Point and Visceral.

Effect of Massage Therapy on Panic Disorder

Massage has been used for centuries to help relax the body and (subsequently) the mind. Because anxiety symptoms often exhibit a chicken-and-the-egg scenario where the body and the mind are both tense and aggravating one another, massage can help to relax both body and mind. (Massage is often done with essential oils - check out the article on panic disorder and aromatherapy.)

Read more details about Massage Therapy.

Research Evidence on Massage Therapy

There is evidence that massage (either alone or combined with aromatherapy) can be helpful in treating the anxiety that is present in people with panic disorder.11,37

In one specific study, a randomized trial involving 68 patients with generalized anxiety disorder, ten sessions of therapeutic massage, thermotherapy (application of heat), or relaxation were all found to be beneficial at reducing anxiety, though none was superior to the others.67

Safety Issues

Massage is generally safe. 1 However, it can sometimes exacerbate pain temporarily, even when properly performed. In addition, if massage is performed too forcefully on fragile people, bone fractures and other internal injuries are possible. However, licensed massage therapists have been trained in ways to avoid causing these problems. Machines designed to perform elements of massage may be less safe. 2

References

  1. Ernst E. The safety of massage therapy. Rheumatology (Oxford). 42(9):1101-6.
  2. Eliott MA, Taylor LP. Shiatsu sympathectomy: ICA dissection associated with a shiatsu massager. Neurology. 2002;58:1302-1304.

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