Massage therapy may be able to improve depression by boosting the release of specific chemicals in your brain that affect your mood. In one small study, participants received either Swedish massage or light touch therapy once per week for 10 weeks.

Massage is being used more and more as a means for treating the symptoms of depression. Depression is a chronic mood disorder that affects your thoughts, feelings, energy levels, and behavior. It can play tricks on your thinking, leading you to feel worthless or have unrealistic expectations. It also can cause physical symptoms like body aches and pains or sleep problems. If nothing else, we know that:

  • depression is not a sign of weakness
  • depression is a serious condition
  • depression can affect anyone
  • depression is treatable
  • depression can be managed

Depression Manifestion

Depression manifests itself differently for each person. Some ways that depression has been described or experienced includes:

  • feelings of hopelessness
  • fatigue/lacking energy or motivation – not being able to get out of bed or off of the couch
  • sleeplessness, restlessness
  • lost of interest in people and in activities
  • feelings of isolation and loneliness
  • thoughts of ending own life or not taking care of one self when sick
  • aches and pains throughout the body
  • digestive issues
  • overeating/under-eating
  • weight gain/weight loss
  • lack of focus or drive

If you have depression, massage therapy probably won’t cure your condition, but it may help relieve the physical symptoms associated with it. For example, massage may help alleviate sluggishness, back pain, joint pain, and muscle aches. It can also help relieve fatigue and sleeping problems. Massage therapy may be able to improve depression by boosting the release of specific chemicals in your brain that affect your mood. In one small study, participants received either Swedish massage or light touch therapy once per week for 10 weeks. By the end of the trial, there was a significant decrease in symptoms among those who received massage compared with those who received light touch therapy.

Massage Benefits

Massage therapy meets the person where they are without having to exchange words. Often times, we are swimming in a pool of emotions, and it is difficult to express them, or even organize them. With the gentle, nurturing touch of massage, a person battling with depression instantly benefits because feel good hormones are released. These hormones not only help you to feel good, but they help with:

  • reducing the symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • decreasing the levels of stress hormones in your blood
  • improving sleep quality

The act of receiving a massage is a step toward self-determination that depressed people can take with little risk of having it backfire. As mentioned earlier, words don't have to be exchanged for you to receive the benefits of a massage. There isn't a risk of being judged, or not being believed. There also isn't a risk of chemical dependency. Massage provides non sexual, nurturing, non threatening touch. This touch is one of the most important ways humans and other mammals have to keep a healthy stress response.

If you or someone you know is experiencing any form of depression, schedule regular massages. There is no need to feel you are alone on your journey for better mental health. Massage is an effective tool that can provide you with a lot of help as you continue to work on taking your self care into your hands.

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