Emory University
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Massage Away Anxiety


Swedish massage therapy provides significant improvement in generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) symptoms, found Emory researchers.

A time-limited course of massage may be an effective and reasonable treatment alternative for anxiety and depression, says lead researcher Mark Hyman Rapaport, Reunette W. Harris professor and chair of Emory’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

Twice-weekly Swedish massage therapy was compared with light touch over a six-week period for participants with GAD. Sessions lasted 45 minutes under same-room conditions. Patient assessments, self-reported and clinician-rated, were done before the initial session and after each subsequent session.

Researchers found as early as session five that individuals who received massages showed greater improvement of anxiety symptoms, as well as a decrease in depression levels.

Use of massage therapy to treat patients with physical ailments is well documented, Rapaport says, but more needs to be understood about the biology of massage to determine its possible role in treating anxiety and mood disorders.

The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

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