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It may seem that each day brings new stress. People need a way to relax that is healthy, and lessens their anxiety. Medical treatment and medication may be indicated to help with severe anxiety, and alternatives like massage therapy can help to assist a person’s healing program.

The first step is to see a medical doctor to make sure that an underlying medical condition does not exist that is causing anxiety.

Massage therapy, as a treatment for anxiety and stress, provides more than just relaxation.

Massage can be effective for a variety of conditions, including arthritis, lower back pain, insomnia, headaches, anxiety, circulatory problems and recovery from a sports injury.

Anxiety can often appear in a person’s shoulders, back and neck. A professional massage can specifically target those areas. Regardless of where the body carries tension, massage increases the body’s levels of oxytocin and serotonin, which results in lowered stress. The feeling of relaxation created by regular massage therapy also lowers blood pressure and elevates mood.

When the body is relaxed, the nervous system responds with a lower heart rate and improved breathing. Deep sleep becomes easier to achieve, because muscles remember the sensation enough to recreate it at home, which enables massage clients to enjoy a healthier life.

More serious anxiety sufferers may have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), which should be treated by a medical doctor. GAD sufferers are often overly concerned about health issues, money, family problems or difficulties on the job. They can have negative, fearful thoughts about the future or suffer excessive guilt about something in the past.

For someone with GAD, these concerns can last for months or even years, and are often groundless. Physical symptoms associated with GAD include muscle tension/aches, fatigue, headaches, difficulty swallowing, twitching, irritability, sweating, nausea, lightheadedness, frequent urination, hot flashes and shortness of breath.

Massage therapy can help clients with GAD. Massage, when coupled with prescribed anti-anxiety medication, can help to further alleviate anxiety. The person’s medical doctor may also recommend additional treatment including but not limited to counseling and herbal remedies.

©The Academy of Massage Therapy and Bodyworks
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