How Massage Therapy Helps with Depression

Close up of a beautiful young woman on massage table over white background

Massage therapy involves therapists manipulating muscles and other tissues to help enhance their function and promote relaxation. China has been using massage therapy for over 3,000 years, with some practitioners believing it eases feelings of depression. Massage therapists believe touch releases hormones, which help create a sense of emotional connection. Having a massage will help improve your mood as well as easing any physical aches or pains.

Scientists believe massage therapy has some mental health benefits. Clinical trials have given scientists hope that massage therapy can help relieve depression. Massage therapy is a well-rounded treatment plan. A useful massage therapy session helps reduce muscle tension, pain, and stress. Areas where massage therapy is beneficial include depression, fibromyalgia, headaches, joint pains, and others. Anxiety can also be cured using massage therapy.

Close up of a beautiful young woman on massage table over white background

How Does Massage Therapy Relieve Depression?

When muscles become rigid or stiff, it can limit your movement and cause pain. Massage therapy helps to relieve this tension in your connective tissues and muscles. It also works by increasing your blood flow as well as promoting a relaxing feeling. In case you are suffering from depression, massage therapy won’t cure the condition. What massage therapy does is relieve the symptoms associated with depression.

Massage therapy is known to alleviate back pains, joint pains, and muscle aches. It is also known to help in relieving fatigue as well as sleeping problems. Studies show that over 45 million American adults suffer from some anxiety disorder. Massage therapy is beneficial when it comes to alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety. It lowers cortisol levels, which are known to respond to anxiety and stress. Having a massage also increases the amount of dopamine and serotonin, which helps manage our moods.

Best Massages for Depression

You can get a wide array of massage types and techniques. If you visit a facility that offers massages, you will come across something that looks like a menu. Most people find it overwhelming to choose which type of massage to have. Below is a list of some of the most common massages you’ll come across. 

Aromatherapy Massage

With this massage technique, a therapist uses scented oils to boost your energy and help reduce stress. An aromatherapy massage is also known to be an anxiety reliever, decrease muscle tension, and helps to increase calmness and relaxation. Some of the essential oils suitable for your body include bergamot, chamomile, ginger, lavender, and lemon. This type of therapy can have some adverse effects, such as allergic reactions. Aromatherapy is also not for pregnant women.

Chair Massage

With the chair massage technique, patients sit on a unique chair and lean forward into a headrest. This method is suitable for newbie massage patients. Sessions are short and don’t require patients to remove any clothing. Benefits of a chair massage include boosting the immune system, decreasing stress, generating more flexibility, and lowering blood pressure. Other known benefits include improving sleep quality and relieving headaches and muscle pains.

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage is for treating tight muscles caused by stress or other problems. This type of massage focuses on muscles closest to your bones and connective tissues. The massage therapists will use warm oils and apply direct pressure to relax the top layer of muscle. Most people get a deep tissue massage to help relieve chronic aches and pains. You can choose to have a full-deep tissue body massage, which includes arms, back, feet, hands, and neck.

Hot Stone Massage

The hot stone massage is a technique where the therapist places warm flat stones on your body to help relax muscles. Therapists will also apply some pressure to the rocks to help relieve muscle tension. This type of massage therapy allows the body to relax but not drift away, thanks to the heat of the stones. Muscle tension is released and calms the body down. As this happens, anxiety levels are alleviated, creating a stress-free body.

Reflexology

Reflexology entails a therapist to apply pressure on areas of your feet. These areas are believed to correspond with other organs and systems in your body. For those treating a particular condition, it is best to schedule reflexology once a week. You should strive to maintain the same schedule for about five to eight weeks. Reflexology will, at times, hurt if you have congested reflex areas. Pain is always brief and not long-lasting. 

Shiatsu Massage

This type of massage focuses on specific parts of the body. The Shiatsu massage is an ancient Japanese technique that restores the energy balance in your body. Therapists apply pressure on particular parts of the body that are closely related to acupuncture. With this type of massage, the pressure is more firm than any other kind of massage. Shiatsu massage rarely produces any stiffness afterward.

Swedish Massage

It is the most common method of massage therapy. The therapists will apply smooth and circular kneading motions to the muscles. It is merely a combination of movements used to relax the body and provide stress relief. Therapists use hands, forearms, or elbows to ease tension on your muscles. Swedish massage helps to improve mental and physical stress, and it also involves the passive movement of joints.

How Often Should You Get a Massage to Relieve Depression?

It all depends on the type of issue you are treating as well as how severe it is. It is logical to think that the more you go for massages, the better you are going to feel. Getting a massage once or twice a week is enough to give you the benefits you are looking for. Once a reduction of your symptoms starts to appear, you can choose to increase the time between massages. Make sure to discuss the time spent with your practitioner.

Talk to a Doctor

If you are struggling with depression, ask your doctor whether adding massage therapy will help. Massage therapy will significantly help alleviate the symptoms and overall make you feel refreshed. Therapists go through rigorous training to ensure they create a relaxing environment and feeling. They learn what type of music or sound is best suited for massage sessions as well as which scents work.

You do not have to deal with depression on your own; contact a mental health professional at any time.

Resources— Healthline, Mental Health Matters, Alleviant 

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