Can massage care help depression and anxiety?
There are many strategies to consider beyond current medical model of care for the management of mental health issues. You may be surprised to learn Chiropractic, Kinesiology, Massage, Bowen, Acupuncture and many other treatments all have a role to play in treating mental health issues.
Massage therapy is one of the “complimentary therapies” I use to manage my depression and anxiety.
The power of touch
Many people will get a massage to relax or unwind. Others will go to have a physical injury or problem addressed. Massage is well-known to relieve bodily aches and pains. While massage is a valuable treatment for a physical problem it is important to consider the benefits for mental health issues as well.
Through the power of touch massage is a great treatment option for mental health conditions because it reduces cortisol and adrenaline. In fact, some studies have found that massage therapy reduced the stress hormone cortisol by up to 53%
Massage also increases serotonin and dopamine, which are both neurotransmitters that help reduce depression.
When we think of massage we often think of indulgence or pampering however a visit to a good massage therapist may be just what the troubled mind needs. In addition to the relief of muscle tension and hormone imbalance, the connection of a massage allows the recipient to feel cared for.
The massage therapist’s focus is totally on you the client and in a sense one almost feels held. Connection is returned between the mind and body and the sense of isolation felt with depression is almost dispelled.
Well, this was certainly my experience.
My experience with massage.
When I hit rock bottom part of my plan for recovery included a monthly massage alternating with monthly chiropractic adjustment in my self-care schedule. This meant I had some sort of physical treatment each fortnight.
The first time I went I was teary and quite a mess emotionally but the universe provided me the perfect clinician. My massage therapist and I developed a nice connection at my monthly visits and I found at each one she has just the right piece of worldly wisdom to share with me as well.
She was able to witness my body in tension and stress and my improvement as she unblocked pathways allowing me to breathe in life again. She would comment at each visit on my improvement and what she noticed in my body, my skin, my attitude, posture and even what I was wearing.
When I was last saw my psychologist to implement a plan to recognise and respond to any potential relapse I had thought I would reduce my schedule to some sort of therapy monthly. Hey I was better so surely could back off a bit? No way. She was very strong with her insistence that I maintain at least fortnightly, if not weekly physical therapy to maintain mental health. Read that post here.
Benefits of massage
Studies have shown massage to be beneficially in treating a variety of disorders including:
- Chronic pain
- Soft tissue injuries
- Neck pain
- Back pain
- High blood pressure
- Digestive disorders
Low risk treatment
One of the awesome things about massage is that it is a low risk treatment meaning it is safe for most people. While you may feel a bit tender in spots the next day, massage itself should not be uncomfortable or painful.
Massage also provides immediate gratification. I find I am relaxed the moment the massage begins. Even knowing my massage is approaching in the next day or so brings a smile to my face.
Types of massage
There are many different types of massage. For a list try here.
Massage in itself will not cure depression or anxiety but it will help relieve some of the symptoms. I certainly find it a useful tool to have in my bag of tricks of self care.
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