Massage and Depression
What is Depression?
Depression affects about 121 million people worldwide and can be debilitating for those who experience it. Prolonged feelings of sadness, discouragement and hopelessness greatly affect the quality of life.
At one time or another, most of us have experienced some form of depression. It is a healthy response to events in our lives that seem overwhelming. When we are balanced, physically and emotionally, we can easily bounce back from a depressed state and move on with our lives. When negative feelings and emotions become persistent and consistent, depression may set in.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there are different forms of depression and those who suffer from depression may respond to treatment differently based on the type of depression they are experiencing:
- Major Depression is characterized by a combination of symptoms that interfere with a person’s ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy once-pleasurable activities.
- Dysthymic disorder is characterized by long-term symptoms that may not be severe enough to disable a person but can prevent normal function or feeling well.
- Minor Depression symptoms for 2 weeks or more that do not meet the full criteria for major depression.
- Psychotic Depression occurs when a person has severe depression plus some form of psychosis.
- Postpartum Depression is more serious than the baby blues that many women experience after giving birth when hormonal and physical changes and the new responsibility of caring for a newborn can be overwhelming.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is characterized by the onset of depression over the winter months.
- Bipolar Disorder also called manic-depressive illness is not as common as major depression or dysthymia. Bipolar disorder is characterized by mood changes from extreme highs to extreme lows.
Did you know massage therapy can help?
Many individuals who suffer from depression benefit greatly from massage therapy. Although massage therapy is not a stand-alone treatment for depression, it may complement the individual’s mental health care treatment plan. Massage therapy helps to stimulate the relaxation state, which can help to naturally regulate and balance the body and mind.
Various studies have demonstrated the benefits of massage for symptoms that are commonly observed in depressed individuals. Some of the benefits include:
- Improved quality of life
- Significant increase in quality of sleep
- Reduced pain, and
- Lower anxiety levels.
What can massage therapists do?
There are many different types of massage. Some types of massage that are beneficial for reducing symptoms associated with depression include:
- Swedish massage
- Deep tissue massage
- Hot Stone Massage
- Chair Massage
What can you do?
As massage helps the body to relax it helps the mind to relax as well. Massage encourages a balanced body-mind connection.
Here are some tips to help you or someone you know who may be experiencing depressive symptoms include:
- Surround yourself with people whom you trust to provide objective and unbiased input and insights. Develop a supportive group of friends, loved ones, family and co-workers who can lend an ear and listen to you.
- Breathe, go slow and think things through. Do not make too many life changes all at once. A few at a time will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed.
- Try to get at least twenty minutes of simple exercise at least three days per week, if not more. Take a daily walk, breathe deeply and let it all go.
- Remember, you are not alone. Others are having similar experiences.
Please consult with your care provider if you suffer from severe depression. Massage therapy works in conjunction with your mental health therapy and should not be the sole treatment for your depression.