Anxiety (Panic)/DepressionMassageRelaxation

Massage for generalized anxiety disorder

Massage is one of the most popular CAM treatments for anxiety.

Researchers from the University of Washington, in Seattle put it to the test.

People with generalized anxiety disorder experience excessive, uncontrollable, and often irrational worry about everyday things.

First, the details.

  • 68 people with general anxiety disorder were randomly assigned to a treatment group for 10 sessions over 12 weeks.
    • Massage
    • Thermotherapy: Medical therapy involving application of heat.
    • Relaxing room therapy
  • A change in anxiety was measured using the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale.
  • Changes in depressive symptoms, worry, and general anxiety disorder-related disability were also measured.
  • Response to treatment was measured at the end of the study and 3 months later.

And, the results.

  • All groups improved significantly by the end of treatment and maintained their gains over  6 months.
    • There were no differences between groups, however.
  • Symptom reduction and resolution of general anxiety disorder, depressive symptoms, worry, and disability showed similar patterns.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded that massage was not superior to the other treatments, and all showed some clinically important improvements. They believe it was probably “due to some beneficial but generalized relaxation response.”

Furthermore, “Because the relaxing room treatment is substantially less expensive than the other treatments, a similar treatment packaged in a clinically credible manner might be the most cost effective option for persons with general anxiety disorder who want to try relaxation-oriented CAM therapies.”

3/10/10 21:26 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.