The journal of Military Medicine reports that massage reduces self reported ratings of anxiety, depression, worry and physical pain. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a common diagnosis among military veterans, it is characterized by a re-experiencing of trauma, avoidance and emotional numbing, all of these lead to a hyperarousal of the sympathetic nervous system. Massage increases parasympathetic nervous activity which promotes relaxation and ease of being. Massage may also lead to a decrease in pain and an increase in mind-body awareness. Mind-body awareness leads to a more coherent sense of self, diminishing the symptoms of disassociation.
If you have health conditions, check with your physician before beginning massage therapy. Consider working with a mental health professional, especially if there is a history of trauma or PTSD. Communication is vital. Inform your massage therapist of any medical issues prior to receiving massage. Always let your massage therapist know what your expectations are and communicate if you are uncomfortable at any point during the massage.
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