Every year, roughly 9.5% of adults in the U.S. experience depression, and 26% face mental health issues. Often times, mental health takes a back seat in the rush to keep up in today’s fast-paced world.
Modern medicine does offer help, but this approach can come with side effects. Fortunately, alternatives are being introduced that may offer noninvasive, non-pharmaceutical options for treating anxiety and depression.
One such complementary tool is vibration therapy.
During vibration therapy, a patient stands on a vibrating platform. This platform delivers specific energy waves to the body, which may help to relieve tension in the body. In addition to tension relief, this therapy offers a number of other health benefits, which may help reduce anxiety and depression.
Does vibration actually help anxiety and depression? Ultimately, the research on this emerging therapy is very new. But research is beginning to confirm the holistic, mind-body healing potential of vibration therapy.
Introduction to Vibration Therapy
Vibration therapy , also known as whole-body vibration, is alternative therapy.
Although it’s gained in popularity, the therapeutic effects of vibration have been used by holistic healers for more than 100 years. (For example, nineteenth century physician Jean-Martin Charcot developed a vibrating chair after seeing the positive effect that horseback riding had on patients.)
The idea is simple: Vibration therapy devices send energy waves through the body. These waves, in turn, provide a variety of positive effects, including circulation improvement and trigger muscle contractions.
In terms of mental health, it’s believed that vibration therapy may help relieve tension. As a result, initial studies have shown promise, indicating a modest reduction in stress and anxiety, resulting in improved mental health.
How Does Whole-Body Vibration Therapy Work?
During a vibration therapy session, you would stand or a platform or sit in a vibration device. Here’s a general overview of what to expect:
- Depending on the machine, the patient can sit, stand, or lie down.
- Sonic wave vibrations pass through the body and transmit energy-generating shocks.
- This forces the patient’s muscles to contract and relax in rapid succession (similar to what occurs during exercise).
The continuous vibrations are believed to lead to physical and mental relaxation.
Potential Benefits of Vibration Therapy for Anxiety and Depression
A variety of research has explored the links between vibration therapy and mental health. Generally, the research isn’t compelling enough to say that it should be the sole treatment plan; however, research has found positive evidence of:
1. Reduced Stress Levels
Vibration therapy is known to promote relaxation and calm the nervous system by sending vibrations (small shocks) to the body to reduce stress. Due to the vibrations, a gentle sensation passes throughout the body that may ease tension and stiffness.
2. Elevated Mood
Some studies suggest that WBV can stimulate the release of feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin. This transmitter is responsible for having a positive impact on mood. By relaxing the body and stimulating serotonin release, vibration therapy may help to relieve depression symptoms.
3. Improved Sleep Quality
Sleep deprivation can exacerbate depression and anxiety. Vibration therapy may help to improve relaxation and mood, which can contribute to improved sleep quality. However, it may also release tension and stiffness, which can keep individuals up at night.
4. Increased Blood Circulation
Improving circulation stimulates the transport of oxygen and nutrients to the brain. WBV therapy sends gentle waves across the body to improve blood flow, which may help to improve brain function and positively influence mood.
5. A Form of Exercise with Improved Energy
A lack of physical activity can contribute to depression symptoms. With vibration therapy, the mild vibrations act like a low-impact exercise. Therefore, they can stimulate positive effects similar to those of light exercise.
Vibration Therapy for Mental Health
Science Behind Vibration Therapy for Mood
While research is still an ongoing activity, several scientific studies provide insight into how this therapy may affect mental well-being. Here are some of the most recent examples:
Reduced Stress, Anxiety and Depression
In a randomized trial, 30 college students were placed in two groups. One group followed an exercise protocol, and the other group performed exercise in tandem with WBV therapy. Following the trial, the WBV group scored significantly lower for depression, anxiety and stress.
Chronic physical and mental stress are prime contributors to anxiety and depression. High-stress levels lead to higher cortisol levels, thus adversely affecting the body.
A recent study was conducted to understand the effects of vibration therapy on men’s hormonal levels. It was concluded that WBV therapy responds to hormonal balances and cortisol regulations by reducing their levels.
Enhanced Blood Flow
A review of 10 studies found data suggesting that vibration therapy helps improve peripheral blood flow . This increase in circulation may help to improve oxygen flow and send proper nutrients across the body, which may help to positively influence the cells responsible for mood regulation and cognitive function.
Exercise and Endorphins
Although studies suggest that vibration therapy may serve as a workout and aid in weight loss, comprehensive research hasn’t fully proven the link. Ultimately, exercise is known to release endorphins, and therefore, WBV may be an option for helping to stimulate endorphin release.
How to Use Vibration Therapy for Anxiety and Depression
Always start by talking with a healthcare provider. Once a treatment plan is decided, you should consider these steps before starting vibration therapy:
Step 1: Consult a Healthcare Professional
Follow the A.B.C.D rule.
Analyze your condition. Book an appointment. Consult with a healthcare professional. Discuss your treatment plan.
Step 2: Choose the Right Equipment
Vibration therapy uses specialized machines that may provide relief from various disorders. Check for three parameters:
Whether they provide a warranty
Provides whole-body or localized treatments
Step 3: Frequency and Amplitude
Make sure your selected vibration therapy machine can offer whole-body as well as localized treatment. It should range from 3Hz to 26+ Hz for treatments across the body, such as arms and muscles, to the whole body.
Quick Tip: Start with lower settings and gradually increase the intensity as per your requirement.
Step 4: Body Positioning
This therapy gives you the flexibility to either sit, lie down, or stand during the session. Ensure always to have a straight posture for easy transmission.
Step 5: Sessions and Timing
Start with a couple of short sessions to get accustomed to the therapy. Anywhere between 10-15 minutes can be considered as an ideal session time. Also, the number of sessions depends on your course of treatment. Based on these above factors, you can gradually increase the duration.
Step 6: Monitor Responses
Note the ‘Before’ status. Closely monitor your body’s response and reaction to vibration therapy. If you experience discomfort, pain, or any such effects, discontinue the session immediately and discuss it with your healthcare provider. Maintain a progress report to assess the vibration therapy’s effectiveness.
Safety and Precautions: What You Need to Know About Vibration Therapy
With any form of therapy, there are always specific safety concerns involved, and it is essential to understand them and take the necessary precautions:
1. Consult a healthcare professional
2. Equipment quality
3. Check frequency and duration recommendations
4. Monitor for any side effects
5. Monitor for any side effects
6. Stay well-hydrated
8. Wear comfortable footwear
9. Age and health considerations
Trying WBV for Anxiety and Depression
WBV is a non-invasive alternative that may help in treating mental health issues. A key advantage: Vibration therapy offers a holistic approach to mental health, and this type of wellness treatment is growing in popularity in the U.S.
As a holistic wellness solution, vibration therapy offers:
A safe, non-invasive alternative
Little to no side effects
A viable complementary therapy for traditional treatments
Ultimately, research on WBV continues to progress. However, although some studies have shown promise, conclusive evidence is lacking. Therefore, it’s always best to work with a licensed provider and talk to your healthcare provider before trying vibration therapy.