Massage is an ancient technique for helping people to overcome physical and psychological health problems. Massage is an integral component of traditional Chinese medicine, and in the United States is a part of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). It is helpful in promoting healing for a range of conditions, from physical injuries to emotional stress. Recent studies have shown that massage provides positive support for those experiencing depression and anxiety.
Depression and Anxiety
The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that approximately 10% of Americans suffer from some form of depression in a given year, while 18% suffer from some type of anxiety disorder. These disorders may coexist and often go untreated. Depression and anxiety can interfere with an individual’s ability to fully engage socially, and increases the risk of unemployment. They can lower the body’s defenses and make people more susceptible to diseases.
Physical Benefits of Massage Therapy
The skin and nervous system are intimately connected. Millions of nerve receptors in the skin are directly linked with our nervous system. Massage causes chemicals to be released throughout the brain and body which aid in reducing stress, anxiety and depression. While it is unknown exactly how massage works to relieve these conditions, physiological evidence gained from recent studies is helping scientists to further their investigations.
Studies showing the ways in which massage is good for depression and anxiety have been published by Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine. Research shows that massage promotes an increase in the mood enhancing neurotransmitters, serotonin and dopamine. It increases levels of endorphins which can relieve pain, while lowering levels of noradrenaline and the stress hormone ACTH (Adrenocorticotrophic hormone).
Other benefits of massage therapy found in studies include boosting of the immune system, stabilizing blood sugar levels, improving lung function and peak air flow. These benefits help to increase overall well-being and may reduce the need for doctor visits.
While massage therapy in itself may not be a cure for depression and anxiety, it has been shown to be beneficial when combined with medical treatments as part of a comprehensive healthcare strategy. If you are struggling with symptoms of anxiety or depression, give us a call to schedule and appointment, and discover how massage therapy can help you to feel better.