Massage Therapy and Depression – By: Patti McGregor, RMT

Almost everyone knows someone who is suffering from or has suffered from depression or anxiety, yet people still feel uncomfortable talking about it. Or even worse, seeking the help they need. Especially Men it seems, many men do not recognize, acknowledge, or seek help for their depression and may be reluctant to talk about how they are feeling.

Massage therapy could be the first step to climbing out of that black hole of depression.  Even if all you accomplish that day is leaving the house to get a massage, you will feel a hundred times better just knowing you’re taking control.  Massage nurtures and soothes the body and soul promoting whole body health and a sense of well-being .

As a complement to primary therapies such as talk therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, Massage Therapy has been shown to be beneficial in easing the pain, both physical and mental, that accompanies severe Depression or Anxiety.

Those suffering from chronic or severe depression often have a specific posture: head forward and down, upper back rounded and shoulders and arms rolled in toward the body.
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This posture can result in shortened abdominal, chest and arm muscles which limit breathing and range of motion. It can also contribute to digestive issues and headaches. Massage helps ease the tension in shortened muscles and increases the blood flow, aiding in the flushing of toxins and healing tissue; bringing the body back into a more upright and balanced posture.

Many studies have also shown that Massage Therapy contributes to an increase in serotonin and dopamine levels (feel good neurotransmitters) and decrease in cortisol (stress hormone). Low levels of serotonin and dopamine and high levels of Cortisol are proven indicators of Depression that can be measured in urine or slivia.

High levels of cortisol not only contribute to feeling stressed anxious and depressed, but also

  • Inhibits sleep and quality of sleep meaning even when you get 8 hours your still tired
  •  It can increase weight gain especially around your middle even when you’re eating well
  • Lowers your immune system
  • Increases craving for sugary and high carb foods
  • Increases your sensitivity to pain
  • Decreases your sex drive (yikes!)

Many therapists believe that muscle stores emotions and memories and massage therapy can help release these as well. Correcting negative posture, working old scar tissue from surgeries, injuries or abuse can also help you reconnect to yourself and move past emotional roadblocks you may not even know were there.

Having a massage to help ease anxiety or Depression can be as short as 30 mins or as long as 90mins. It can be done over the sheets, with the client fully clothed or with oil in a more traditional way. The massage could encompass the full body or have only hands, feet and scalp worked. Techniques differ from therapist to therapist and you need to find what works best for you.  It’s all about being able to relax, feel safe and let go of the tension in a supportive environment.

Relief is close at hand, so why wait? Book your massage today or pass on the information to someone you love who is suffering.

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