Heavy Breathing Can Be Good For You
Here is the gist:
The study of 68 people, reported in Depression and Anxiety, showed anxiety symptoms were halved for those given 10 massage sessions over three months. But those given relaxation therapy, which is much cheaper, improved by the same amount. The study looked at people with generalised anxiety disorder, a condition involving excessive worry that makes normal life difficult.
The patients were given one of three treatments. One group had massage. The other two groups had relaxation therapy (breathing deeply while lying down) or thermotherapy (having their arms and legs wrapped up intermittently with heating pads and warm towels). All three therapies were given in a relaxing environment with soft lighting and quiet music. At the end of the treatments, all three groups reported their anxiety had decreased by about 40% - and about 50% three months later.
It should be noted that massage is often used for physical ailments - to help damaged muscles, for example. So there is a role for massage, although more for the physical than the mental.