Alternative Arena: Massage for Depression

This week, we have been discussing the benefits of massage on the depressed person. One of things I Identified earlier in the week, was the benefit of simple human touch. When we are depressed, we tend to isolate ourselves. We push away the ones we love, and then we feel so very lonely. Everything we need to do to start feeling better, we do the exact opposite! Simply feeling the power of human touch can bring us to tears when we are depressed and I recommended that we all try to get a massage and see if it makes us feel better, even if only for a little while.

Some of the other benefits of massage can include:


  • Whether you are depressed or not, massage therapy helps to release toxins in your body that are built up due to poor posture, work and everyday responsibilities that can cause stress. The University of Northern Iowa’s Wellness and Recreation Services notes that massage releases waste products (commonly known as toxins) that are built up in your muscles, allowing nutrients and oxygen to flow to those muscles and provide relief. Being depressed can intensify the aches and pains in your body caused by the buildup of toxins. Flushing out your system allows you to feel refreshed and relaxed in your own skin. You may not even realize the extent of your physical (and emotional) discomfort until you can experience the renewed benefits of massage.


    • Massage therapy can be offered in a private practice, in an at-home appointment or in a spa or salon. The atmosphere of any form of massage therapy session should be calm, inviting and comfortable. If in addition to your depression you also suffer from anxiety, it can be difficult to relax and be in the moment. According to the Mayo Clinic, many people report that massage therapy helps them achieve a greater sense of well-being and relaxation.

      The amount of relief provided by massage is different for every individual. Even if your massage only helps you to relax for a short period of time, this may be enough to help you see how differently you can feel, and give you a goal to focus on in your recovery from depression.

    Taking Care of Yourself

    • One of the key components of depression is a lack of self-esteem. Low self-esteem causes you to constantly doubt yourself and your abilities. It is difficult to want to do anything beneficial for yourself when you don’t feel that you deserve it. Massage therapy is a way to help alleviate your depression while making an effort to take care of yourself. Everyone has the right to some self-pampering, and massage therapy can help you achieve a greater sense of awareness, making you more inclined to continue using massage to take care of yourself both mentally and physically.

    The Touch Institute Test

    Studies done by the Touch Research Institute of the University of Miami have concluded that you can reduce your anxiety and feelings of depression with regular massage therapy. The Touch Research Institute has conducted over 100 studies on the connection between massage therapy and various health conditions. They have discovered that massage therapy has a very positive effect on treating anxiety and depression.The Touch Research Industry applied a 30 minute back massage for a 50 day period to 52 hospitalized patients suffering from depression. Nurses found that the subjects were less anxious, more cooperative and had lower saliva cortisol after the massage. Urinary cortisol and norepinephrine had also decreased.Another study done by the Touch Research Institute showed how anxiety levels can be reduced by massage in the workplace. An on-site chair massage therapy program was set up and stress levels were measured before, during and after the massages. The study showed significant reduction of anxiety levels for those who participated in this massage program study.The Touch Research Institute also studied the connection between depression and massage therapy in women suffering from postpartum depression. Both the babies and the mothers attended an infant massage class. The depression levels fell in the mothers and an improvement on mother-infant interactions was seen due to the massage therapy sessions.

    The New Mood Research Results

    Anxiety and depression are related to one’s mood. According to the New Mood Research Institute at the University of Manchester, there are three main parts to depression. These are the inability to experience pleasure, an excessive sensitivity to stress and a negative outlook on circumstances. This is where massage comes in. Massage therapy can reduce both stress and fatigue so you can get on with your day.Massage releases both serotonin and endorphins. The serotonin acts as a calming mediator for the body while the endorphins act as a happy stimulator for the brain. Together they can bring pleasurable feelings and general elevated moods in both your body and mind.In relation to stress, a massage has been proven to lower the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine which can cause your body to tire and your mind to worry. Numerous studies from Touch Institute demonstrate how massage can calm these stress hormones down and let your body and mind relax. With stress out of the picture, you can get back to your daily life, anxiety-free.

    Now we cant all afford a daily massage for 50 days, but what about a massage a week or a massage every month or maybe every other week? If touch can have such a profound affect on our mood, our cortisol levels and serotonin, we should really spend some time looking into getting a massage more often. Honestly, I have found massage is a requirement for me, the longer I go without a massage, the worse my back pain, my mood, my stress etc.
    Like I said in our last look at massage, there are other ways to get massages that do not cost as much money, how about your significant other or your kids, or maybe you and a friend can exchange massages. Dont forget about those massage schools, you can get your massage, get a burgeoning massage therapist a few more hours for their license and release a few more massage therapists into the world a win-win-win situation if you ask me! So what are you waiting for? GO get that massage and come back here to tell us if you feel better!

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