This information is not intended to be a medical diagnosis. I am not a doctor. If you think you have depression or other mental health problems, please talk to your doctor. Massage is not a cure for depression. Do not stop taking your medication because you are getting massages. Always talk to your doctor before stopping any medication.
How is it caused? And how can massage help?
One in six Americans experience (at least briefly) some form of depression (Mental Heath… 2020). I included, it’s one of the reasons I came to massage, and defiantly one of the reasons I love it so much. Understanding what someone is going through. More than just science or seeing others go through depression. I have been there too.
Over half my life I have lived with depression and I know I would not be the person I am today without the understanding of others. So being that person who can help with massage as you will see below, but just understanding what you are going through. It is just a honer to give back what was given to me.
What is depression?
What is depression? Most people who experience depression will feel sad or experience anxiety. They can have sleeping problems and/or eating problems. Depression can lead to physical ailments such as headaches, stomach problems, or other aches and pains (Mental Heath… 2020).
Depression varies from person to person. The cause is different. The duration is different. The way someone copes is different. How is depression caused? Depression can be caused by multiple things like a change in your hormones, family genes, pregnancy, menopause, and even some medication (Mental Heath… 2020). Going through stressful or traumatic events, or even just going through a normal life change can also bring on depression.
One cause that often gets overlooked is one’s medical problems such as chronic pain, stroke, and cancer just to name a few (Mental Heath… 2020). It could even be more than just reason or even change over time. Mine started as situational from the loss of my father. It changed over the years from that to moving schools then cites. Depression even runs in my family on both sides. So whether it is situational, medically caused or from a hormonal imbalance, depression in all its forms can be really hard for the person as well as being hard on the family and friends who support them.
That is where massage can help. A lot of people who get massages are either looking to relax or to help with the pains of their bodies (Krans, 2016). That is not always the case, but those tend to be the most common objectives. Massage is known for leaving people feeling better when they have the right therapist and with the right goals. There are many forms of massage all of them have their place and meet different needs.
Today I want to talk about two forms and how they can affect your depression. A relaxation massage can help relieve stress, and a therapeutic massage can relieve some of your pain (Krans, 2016). You do not have to choose one or the other. Talk to your therapist, and we will work to find the best balance for you.
Most forms of massage have been shown to lower your cortisol levels to some degree. Cortisol is often referred to as the stress hormone because it is released when you are stressed or in a fight or flight situation (What is… 2018). That is not all that cortisol does. It also can help with blood pressure, blood sugar and also can help with memory (What is… 2018). As with most things it is good in moderation.
Another effect of massage is that it also helps release serotonin, often called the feel-good hormone. Serotonin helps stabilize your mood, and with your mood stabilized, you tend to be calmer, more focused, and happier (Bancos, 2018). In addition to helping your mood, serotonin does a lot in your body.
First, it helps your sleep. Serotonin is part of both falling asleep and waking processes. It also helps with small wounds like small cuts and scrapes (Bancos, 2018). Serotonin is released to help clot the wound and a lot more. Low levels of serotonin are linked to depression and other mental health disorders (Bancos, 2018).
More stable moods and hormone levels can help symptoms like sadness, stress, sleeping problems, and more. Improved hormone levels are just one benefit of massage. Another potential benefit is pain reduction. Massage can help with the pain. Pain that is caused by stress or pain that is contributing to depression. With less pain, you tend to be less stressed and in a better mood.
Your massage therapist, physical therapist, and your doctor can work with you to help build a plan to relieve some of your pain and improve your mood. Depression has many causes and different effects on the body. No matter how or why it is affecting you, it is difficult. You should talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of depression and want to know more about what can help. Massage in its many forms has been shown to have a positive effect on a person experiencing depression (Treatment effects… 2010).
As someone who has lived with depression most of her life, and as one who has experienced many of the symptoms at one time or another, I believe massage has helped me. It has helped by giving me an overall sense of well being afterward, relieving my aches and pains, or just having a soothing conversation while helping the tension in my muscles. That is why I like helping others as a massage therapist by giving people my understanding and support they need. For me,, if this helps one person even just a bit it would be more than worth what I went through. That is why I wanted to share how sometimes massage can help your depression.
Again I am not a doctor if you need help or believe you have depression please seek medical help.
Bancos I. Serotonin. Serotonin | Endocrine Society. 2018 [accesseed 2020 Apr 19]. https://www.hormone.org/your-health-and-hormones/glands-and-hormones-a-to-z/hormones/serotonin
Cortisol. Cortisol | Endocrine Society. 2018 [accessed 2020 Apr 19]. https://www.hormone.org/your-health-and-hormones/glands-and-hormones-a-to-z/hormones/cortisol
Krans B. Massage Therapy for Depression. Healthline. 2016 [accessed 2020 Apr 19]. https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/massage-therapy
Treatment effects of massage therapy in depressed people: a meta-analysis. Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE): Quality-assessed Reviews [Internet]. 2010 [accessed 2020 Apr 19]. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK80351/
Mental Health Conditions: Depression and Anxiety. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2020 Mar 23 [accessed 2020 Apr 19]. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/diseases/depression-anxiety.html