The randomized trial split 68 anxiety-ridden patients into groups that underwent one of three 10-hour treatments: massage, deep breathing while lying down, or thermotherapy (intermittently wrapping arms and legs in warm towels).
All three treatments were offered in dimly lighted 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.”
Source: McClatchy-Tribune Information Services