Is massage really the best way to ease anxiety? Here's the rub:
While it works, massage isn't necessarily more effective than cheaper relaxation treatments, such as listening to soft, soothing music or deep breathing, according to a study recently published in the journal Depression and Anxiety.
The randomized trial split 68 anxiety-ridden patients into groups who underwent one of three 10-hour treatments: massage, deep breathing while lying down, or thermotherapy (intermittently wrapping the arms and legs in warm towels).
All three treatments were offered in dimly lit rooms with quiet background music, and all participants received a handout on deep-breathing techniques.
When later asked by researchers to rate their anxiety levels, all three groups reported symptoms reduced by about 40 percent at the end of the 12-week treatment period and by 50 percent three months later. They also reported less depression and worry.
The research team, which had hypothesized that massage would be superior because it's designed to relieve muscle tension, detected no differences among the three groups.
"Treatment in a relaxing room is much less expensive than the other treatments (massage or thermotherapy)," said study author Karen Sherman, an investigator for the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle.
"So it might be the most cost-effective option for people with generalized anxiety disorder who want to try a relaxation-oriented complementary medicine therapy."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun