Let's start with definitions and symptoms for both:Chronic Stress, Definition: a biological and hormonal response to emotional pressure prolonging over an extended period of time.
Chronic Stress, Symptoms: Changes in appetite, libido, interrupted sleep pattern or insomnia, digestive issues and decreased immune system.
Anxiety Disorder, Definition: excessive feelings of worry, apprehension or unease that is typically accompanied with compulsive disorders or panic attacks.
Anxiety, Symptoms: expressing fear or worry, increased irritability, racing or unwanted thoughts, faster heart rate, panic attacks, fatigue and restlessness.
While both of these have similar effects on those who suffer, stress is often caused by outlying factors that may or may not be in the control of the person being affected while anxiety typically gives a person the feeling of unease, paranoia, and fear, not always with reason and can be uncontrollable for some with anxiety disorder.
On average, people who suffer from chronic stress has increased over time. The same can be said with people diagnosed with anxiety disorder, approximately 18.1% of the population, but that number could actually be much higher due to misdiagnoses or not being diagnosed at all. It can also be seen in the younger generations, with higher percentages across the board compared to older generations. This could, in part, be caused by a heightened awareness surrounding mental health, but is more likely the cause of other factors to do with this day and age.
To read more anxiety disorder statistics, take a look at this article here.
Anxiety disorder and chronic stress are hardly new topics, however there is still a stigma surrounding these two as they have been shed with a bad light in the past. With the arrival of "Mental Health Awareness Month" in 1949, some of the stigmas have been dropped but we haven't seen quite as much change regarding these disorders until the last decade or so. Employers have become more aware of how to help their employees deal with job stress and anxiety, medicine has evolved and there are now alternative treatments to help deal with stress and anxiety disorder, like massage.
You knew where this was going. Massage has proven time and again that it's an effective option for people suffering from anxiety disorder, depression, or experiencing chronic stress. A large part of this is due to the "power of touch," which does more than you could imagine. During a massage, hormones like endorphins are released which counteract negative feelings, thoughts, and generally flood your body with a "feel-good" sensation. This helps fight higher cortisol levels (the "stress hormone") and allows your body to reach a state of ease and calm.
Muscle manipulation during massage also helps fight inflammation and pain since it can help the lymphatic system drain more efficiently, helping you feel better quickly and leaving you with a better ability to heal. This in turn can lead to better sleep, a more positive outlook on life, and even get you in the mood to be more active (which can also increase your endorphins). Your physical and mental state can easily influence the other; mental illnesses can manifest themselves physically and vice versa. By improving one, you will improve the other, which is why massage is such a great option for those suffering from chronic stress, anxiety disorder, depression or chronic pain.
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If you or someone you know may have chronic stress or anxiety disorder, it's important to get the help you need for them or yourself. Speak to a doctor, see a therapist and treat yourself to massage!
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