Therapeutic Massage for Anxiety and Panic Disorder
From http://www.verywellmind.com By Katharina Star, PhD Medically reviewed by Steven Gans, MD Updated on November 28, 2020
Complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) are unconventional types of products and practices that are being used to treat a variety of medical and mental health conditions.1 Over the past several years, CAM practices have grown in popularity and are often used in combination with more traditional medical practices. Some common CAM practices include acupuncture, yoga, and aromatherapy.
Massage therapy is another type of CAM practice that is often used to treat muscle pain, injury, and stiffness. Massage therapy has more recently been used for the treatment of mental and emotional problems, including stress, anxiety, and depression.
Also considered a relaxation technique, massage therapy may be able to help reduce tension and elicit feelings of calm and deep relaxation. Additionally, massage may be able to curb feelings of fear and anxiety and assist in managing other panic disorder symptoms.
What Is Massage Therapy?
Massage therapy involves manipulating the muscles by kneading, rubbing, pressing, or patting different muscle groups. Massage therapists use their hands and massage oils to work through various groups of muscles.
Some massage therapists will also include aromatherapy oils and tranquil music to help create a peaceful and deeply relaxing experience.
There are many different kinds of massage offered by massage therapists. Depending on the style, massages often vary in pressure and muscle group focus. Some of the most common types of massage include:
Swedish massage: This is the most popular type of massage and is meant to help relax the body and mind. It involves a total body massage where a person lies on the massage table while the massage therapist slowly works through different muscle groups. Swedish massage also helps circulate blood flow, relieve mental stress, and reduce muscle pain and tension.
Deep tissue: This kind of massage is similar to Swedish massage. However, the massage therapist uses more pressure and intensity when working through the muscles. Deep tissue massage is aimed at releasing tense and painful muscle knots that are often associated with physical discomfort, stress, and headaches.
Sports massage: Often used by athletes, sports massage is used to assist in athletic training. This type of massage is focused on preparing muscles for intense training. Additionally, sports massage is used to help the muscles recover after intense performance or injury.
Shiatsu: Frequently referred to as acupressure, Shiatsu is a form of massage that is similar to acupuncture. Shiatsu originated in Japan and means “finger pressure.” Instead of using needles like acupuncture, the practitioner uses their fingers on pressure points. Pushing these points are thought to help release energy and restore balance back to the body and mind.
Massage therapy can help the body relax, which in turn can help one let go of anxious and fearful thoughts. Massage can relieve muscle pain and tension, improve circulation, and increase flexibility. As a relaxation technique, massage therapy can work to manage the fight-or-flight response, or stress reaction, that is typically overactive among people with anxiety disorders.2
The fight-or-flight reaction is responsible for causing fearful thoughts and reactions that often far outweigh any actual threat in the environment. For example, people with agoraphobia often fear having a panic attack in a large crowd or a confined area where it would feel embarrassing or be difficult to escape.
The fight-or-flight reaction typically leads to uncomfortable physical symptoms, such as shortness of breath, accelerated heart rate, excessive sweating, and chest pain. Massage therapy can have an opposing effect on the body by eliciting the relaxation response, reducing tension, lowering heart rate, and generally making a person feel calmer.5
Less muscle pain and tension
Improve circulation and flexibility
Lower heart rate
Fewer anxious thoughts
Tame fight-or-flight response
Lower tension and more feelings of calm
Massage therapy is offered at many spas, salons, and wellness centers. However, as it continues to become a more mainstream treatment option, massage is now offered at many hospitals and clinics. Some insurance companies may even cover massage therapy services.
When meeting with your massage therapist for the first time, make sure to discuss your medical history, including your panic and anxiety symptoms.
It is important to schedule these services with a licensed or certified massage therapist. This ensures that you will get treatment from a qualified practitioner who has followed the standards and requirements for their state licensure.
Licensed massage therapists can be found through website directories, including the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork and the American Massage Therapy Association. Let the massage therapist know if you have any areas of discomfort throughout your body. Also discuss what you hope to get out of the massage, such as muscle or stress relief.
Generally, massage therapy only has a few potentially adverse side effects. Many people experience some soreness throughout their body the first few days following a massage.
However, you should never feel pain or discomfort during or after a massage. Massage is also contraindicated for certain medical conditions. Always consult your doctor before getting a massage if you are unsure if it’s right for you.
Studies have supported the safety and effectiveness of utilizing massage therapy for stress, anxiety, and depression—but if you are experiencing panic attacks and other symptoms of panic disorder, talk to your doctor before trying this and other CAM practices.
Your doctor will be able to assist you with conventional treatment options, such as medication and therapy. Massage may be beneficial in helping you manage your condition but is not a substitute for traditional medical care.3 Massage therapy may be incorporated into your standard treatment plan to assist you in coping with panic disorder.
Link to original article below. https://www.verywellmind.com/massage-therapy-for-panic-disorder-2584306