What is anxiety?
Anxiety is defined as a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.
This can be a common occurrence when faced with a change in "the norm", especially when the outcome is not guaranteed. Most people are able to get through moments of anxiety with minimal to no problems. General anxiety does not have a huge impact on ones life. Others, on the other hand, seem to experience anxiety more acutely and for a more prolonged period of time, effecting many, if not all areas of life. It is possible these folks have been diagnosed with an Anxiety Disorder.
18% of adults suffer from some form of Anxiety Disorder. While that doesn't seem to be a large percentage, but in fact, it covers millions of people. This figure does not include children.
What is an Anxiety Disorder?
A chronic condition characterized by an excessive and persistent sense of apprehension, with physical symptoms such as sweating, palpitations, and feelings of stress.
Anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental disturbance in the United States population. It is estimated that 28 million people suffer from an anxiety disorder every year.
There are 12 distinct Anxiety Disorders, grouped under the following 7 headings
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
This is the most commonly diagnosed anxiety disorder. It occurs frequently in young adults. It is characterized by excessive,uncontrollable and often irrational worry over normal, everyday matters, seeing the worst possible outcome in every situation.
Panic disorders with or without agoraphobia.
The chief characteristic of panic disorder is having repeated, sudden attacks of intense fear that something bad will happen.
Agoraphobia is usually not a disorder byitself, but is typically associated with some form of panic disorder. It is characterized by an intense fear and anxiety of being in places where it is hard to escape, or where help might not be available, usually manifesting as a fear of crowds, bridges, or of being outside alone.
A phobia is an intense irrational fear of a specific object or situation that poses little real danger but provokes anxiety that compels the patient to avoid it.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
This disorder is characterized by unwanted, intrusive and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions), or behaviors that make them feel driven to do something (compulsions).
These include Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and acute stress disorder. Stress disorders are symptomatic reactions to traumatic events in the patient's life.
Anxiety Disorders due to known physical causes
These include general medical conditions or substance abuse.
Anxiety disorder not otherwise specified
This last category is not a separate type of disorder, but isincluded to cover symptoms that do not meet the specific DSM-IV criteria for other anxiety disorders.
All DSM-IV anxiety disorder diagnoses include a criterion of severity. The anxiety must be severe enough to interfere significantly with the patient's occupational or educational functioning, social activities or closerelationships, and other customary activities.
Can Massage Therapy Help?
In 1992, The Touch Research Institute was established at the University of Miami School of Medicine. It was the first center in the world devoted solely to the study of touch and it's application in science and medicine. The Touch research Institute has published landmark studies on touch therapy's reduction of anxiety. Two of these include:
1. Published in 1992 in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, researchers found that a 30 minute back massage given daily for 5 days reduced anxiety of hospitalized, depressed, and adjustment disorder children and adolescents.
2. Published in 1996 in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, researchers found that significant reductions in anxiety levels were found in employees receiving on site chair massage.