Touch therapy a promising approach to treat anxiety disorders
Mechanical Affective Touch Therapy (MATT) is a promising non-invasive therapeutic approach to anxiety disorders that warrants further development, according to data from a recent trial published in Front. Psychiatry.
Therapeutic non-invasive peripheral nerve stimulation is being investigated for conditions such as gait disorders, pain, anxiety, and depression.
Nerve activation may be achieved by delivering electrical or mechanical energy directly to the area of the dermis that is innervated by the target nerve(s).
C-tactile fibers generate signals that mediate emotional rather than discriminative properties of touch. This is the target for stimulation by an investigational device called "Mechanical Affective Touch Therapy" which delivers gentle vibration on the bilateral mastoid processes.
A recent study conducted by Linda L.Carpenter et.al tried to confirm the preliminary efficacy and feasibility signals in a clinical sample with anxiety disorders and to explore changes in brain activity associated with the use of Mechanical Affective Touch Therapy MATT.
22 adults with anxiety disorders and at least moderate anxiety symptom severity were enrolled in an open-label pilot trial that involved Mechanical Affective Touch Therapy MATT self-administration using a simple headset at home at least twice per day for 4 weeks.
Resting Electro Encephalogram (EEG) data were acquired before and after a baseline Mechanical Affective session and again before the final Mechanical Affective Touch Therapy session.
Self-reported measures of mood and anxiety were collected at baseline, week 2, and week 4, while interoception was assessed pre-and post-treatment. The study found that:
● Anxiety and depressive symptoms improved significantly from baseline to endpoint, and mindfulness was enhanced.
● EEG metrics confirmed an association between acute Mechanical Affective Touch Therapy stimulation and oscillatory power in alpha and theta bands; symptom changes correlated with changes in some metrics.
The researchers concluded that "Data from this open-label trial suggest Mechanical Affective Touch Therapy is a promising non-invasive therapeutic approach to anxiety disorders.