Alternative Arena ; Massage Therapy

If you prefer natural therapies, then you might be searching for home remedies for depression. There is no conclusive evidence that any complementary and alternative treatment or home remedy is effective for moderate to severe depression. However, some people with depression may feel that home remedies help cope with the condition.

Sometimes, massage is recommended for patients with anxiety and depression. Not only does massage relax your body and mind of anxiety, but depression has major physiological and anatomical components; it is in this area that massage can truly have a significant and profound effect. Massage can also treat the chronic pain that is often associated with depression.

Most people suffering from depression will reap several benefits from bodywork. The act of touch alone can greatly improve a depressed mood.  Receiving non sexual, nurturing, non threatening touch is one of the most important ways humans and other mammals have to keep a healthy stress response.

Massage moves people from a sympathetic to a parasympathetic state. This brings about several physiological and chemical changes in the body, including an increase in serotonin secretion and a decrease in cortisol. To better understand this concept, think of the sympathetic state as our fight or flight response and the parasympathetic state as the rest and digest or feed and breed response. So, we have talked about diet and reducing cortisol, the stress hormone (and the nasty culprit for a lot of that belly fat) and increasing serotonin one of the feel good hormones that helps us rest. Massage therapy and the associated relaxation can help us relax and switch from making cortisol to making serotonin.

Massage is one of the few distinctively pleasurable things people can do that is also really good for them. The act of receiving a massage is a step toward self-determination that depressed people can take with little risk of having it backfire. Research about how massage affects mood indicates a shift in electroencephalogram (EEG) activation from the right frontal lobe (usually associated with sad affect) to the left frontal lobe (usually associated with happy affect), or at least to a symmetrical reading.Massage is one of the few distinctively pleasurable things people can do that is also really good for them. The act of receiving a massage is a step toward self-determination that depressed people can take with little risk of having it backfire. Can you say, WOW!? We might be able to change the way our brain is functioning just by getting a massage!?

Now, I don’t know about you, but I love getting massages, I actually consider them a necessity. I used to get them occasionally, when I had the time and the money. A few years ago, I was suffering from a devastating hip injury. I spent months in physical therapy and could not get better, actually many times, the physical therapy made me feel worse. I was active duty at the time and the social stigma for the injured can be unbearable. I wasn’t trying to get out of PT, I really was in pain! I went to my usual massage therapist, it had been months since I had seen her. She did a few manipulations and stuck her elbow right into the center of my ass cheek. Basically, she did a nerve block on my sciatic nerve and I was in heaven!!!!! It was instant relief from the pain that I had suffered for months. Eventually, she suggested I see a chiropractor and he almost healed my pain immediately and permanently, but we can talk about the chiropractor next time. Jo, my amazing massage therapist became a regular part of my month. I made sure to schedule an appointment with her monthly.

Over the past few months, my work has been extremely stressful. I know that massage is an important part of feeling better. I moved across the country for this job, so it took me a little bit of time to find the right person. I finally have her and for an example, I went to see her a few weeks ago for a 90 minute massage (I see her every 2 weeks) and she spent the ENTIRE 90 minutes getting my neck together. My shoulders, my neck, my back were in knots and she worked miracles. (It hurt like hell at times) but, I was sick to my stomach with the tension in my back before I went to see her.

I am here to tell you massage can be amazing. If you suffer anxiety or chronic pain, massage therapy might be key to your recovery. Don’t give up! It might take you a few times a few salons, to find the right fit for you, but when you find the right massage therapist, you will know it. Since I already brought up the chiropractor, they often employ massage therapists as part of their treatment. (It is difficult to manipulate the spine when the muscles around it are too tense, the massage therapist will sometimes have to loosen you up before you see the chiropractor for the good stuff.

If you enjoy massage therapy, you should keep getting them, they will make you feel better, relieve stress, reduce pain and the therapeutic touch alone will give you many benefits. If you can’t afford frequent massages, check to see if there is a massage school in your area. Massage students must accumulate many hours before getting certified. I have gotten massages at schools for $25 for the hour and you usually are not even allowed to tip the students. You will feel much better and they will be grateful that they are one hour closer to graduation!

Other Sources:

Field, Tiffany. Touch Therapy. Churchill Livingstone Press, 2000. Page 165.


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