Background & Aims:

The role of touch in managing psychiatric patients is controversial. The purpose of this pilot study was to determine the effectiveness of osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) in patients with anxiety and or depression.


This was an 8-week pilot study comparing a treatment to a control group, each consisting of 10 randomly assigned adult participants with anxiety and or depression on psychotropics. No significant difference existed between groups for age or severity of disease. Participant responses for anxiety and depression were recorded weekly via a modified Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7 item (GAD-7) and Harvard National Depression Screening Day (HANDS) scales. From the initial cohort (n=20) a complete database was achieved for 16 of the patients. Statistical analysis was performed using RStudio.


Of the 16 patients who successfully participated in the study, 6 received OMT, and 10 were part of the control group. For statistical purposes, the data gathered from both groups were subdivided into two categories: depression and anxiety subgroups. The depression treatment group had a week 1 mean of 24.4 ± 11.2 (n=5) with a paired t-test showing significance at week 7 of 18.0 ± 10.9 (n=5), P = .00767 and week 8 of 15.2 ± 12.5 (n=5), P = .041.The anxiety treatment group had a week 1 mean of 26.0 ± 8.7 (n=5) with paired t-test significant at week 7 of 20.2 ± 10.7 (n=5), P = .019 and week 8 of 19.2 ± 11.1 (n=5), P = .00815.All patients in the treatment group showed significant improvements in their anxiety and depression levels compared to those in the control group, which worsened by week 8.


Findings in this study indicate that OMT may be an effective adjunctive treatment modality for depression and anxiety.

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