Stress is an inevitable part of life. It is almost impossible to take away all the stress and anxiety we may feel on a day-to-day basis. Research suggests that more than 90 percent of illness results from stress alone. Decreasing physical and emotional stress is optimal to improving overall health and well-being.  When you ask exactly how massage therapy works to benefit people with anxiety and depression, the most accurate answer is “we don’t yet know.” But that’s not to say the benefits aren’t real, we believe that is has something to do with the sense of touch.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 40 million adult Americans suffer from anxiety disorders.  Anxiety and its disorders shape the quality of life and the health of those individuals affected.  Massage is generally considered part of complementary and alternative medicine. It’s increasingly being offered along with standard treatment for a wide range of medical conditions and situations including anxiety.

First, you need to find a massage therapist who knows how exactly to deal with problems associated with anxiety issues. This may entail some research or even some trial and error until you find the right therapist for you.  It would also be beneficial for you and your chosen therapist for you to tell him or her about the specific results that you are after. This is why it is crucial to search for a therapist who also knows how to listen to his or her clients. Once you have established a connection with your therapist, you can try different types of massage and find which ones work best for your needs.  Relaxation massages are best for treating anxiety, but you can try just about any type of massage to help calm your nerves.

A review of more than a dozen massage studies conducted by the Touch Research Institute at the University Of Miami School Of Medicine concludes that massage therapy relieves depression and anxiety by affecting the body’s biochemistry. In a series of studies including approximately 500 men, women, and children with depression or stress problems, researchers measured the stress hormone cortisol in participants before and immediately after massage and found that the therapy lowered levels by up to 53%. (Cortisol can drive up blood pressure and blood sugar levels and suppress the immune system.) Massage also increased serotonin and dopamine, which are neurotransmitters that help reduce depression and anxiety.

Massage has long been known to enhance relaxation. While massage alone is an effective method for relaxation, studies suggest that massage with essential oils (called aromatherapy), may result in improved sleep quality, more stable mood, increased mental capacity, and reduced anxiety. Clinical studies have found participants who received massage with aromatherapy felt less anxious and more positive than participants who received massage alone. We recommend trying the AromaTouch technique .

A 60-minute massage can lower cortisol (a hormone produced under stress) by an average of 30 percent. When cortisol levels decline, serotonin (an anti-pain hormone) increases by an average of 28 percent after receiving a massage. By lowering cortisol and increasing serotonin, you’re boosting your body’s ability to fight off pain, anxiety and feelings of sadness in addition to boosting the effectiveness of your immune system.

Stress is an inevitable part of life – it is almost impossible to take away all the stress and anxiety we may feel on a day-to-day basis.  Keep in mind, too, that massage helps tackle the physical consequences of your anxiety like near-constant jaw-clenching, balling of fists, and shoulder-hunching.  Research suggests that more than 90 percent of illness results from stress alone. Decreasing physical and emotional stress is optimal to improving overall health and well-being – schedule your healing and life improving massage today.