Depression, Can Massage Help?

By Latasha Sampson and Ross Ashcraft

Massage not only feels good, but it also helps to reduce depression, stress, and anxiety. During a massage session your body releases different hormones that have a therapeutic effect on the body. All of us know someone who has been blue, down on their luck, or just plain depressed. Depression takes on many symptoms, which include:

*Some people have a feeling of overwhelming sadness

* Change in appetite, which causes weight loss or weight gain

* Disturbance in sleep (Insomnia)

* A decrease in self- esteem

* Harm to self or thought about harming self

* A feeling of fatigue that can be physical, mental or both

* Thoughts of suicide or death

Type of Depression:

Major Depression:  Involves overwhelming feelings of sadness and loss of interest in normal activites.  These feelings will have lasted for more than two weeks.

Dysthymia:  A mild long lasting version of depression that will come and go, and last as long as five years.

Adjustment Disorders:  Linked to a major life change such as death, loss of job, or failure of relationships.  It involves anxiety, depressed mood, and disturbing emotions that linger long past a normal grieving period.

Bipolar Disorders:  Characterized by wide swings of emotions.  Those with the condition will have periods of massive energy followed by low moods and dark emotions.  Those that think they are suffering with the conditions need to be under a doctor’s care.  This condition tends to progress and make the swings in emotion shorter and more erratic, and it can eventually lead to suicidal tendencies.

Massage Can Help

Massage has been shown to directly affect the hormones and neurotransmitters that have been linked to all forms of depression.  Massage increases serotonin and dopamine which are the natural feel good chemicals that our bodies produce.  It decreases the amount of cortisol and adrenaline which are the stress hormones of our bodies.

The goal of massage for depressed clients is to:

* Reduce Tension & Stress

* Relaxation

* Help Promote Proper Breathing

* Calm The Mind

Types of Massage Therapies that help in coping with Depression

1.  Cranialsacral Therapy

2.  Swedish massage

3.  TMJ ( Temporomandibular Joint) release. TMJ release can help if you have a client that clenches there jaw or has headaches from the tension in this area.

Self Help Technique:

Stretching can help with depression. Doing stretches or yoga can help loosen the body and allow you the time to meditate, focus on breathing and clearing your mind.

Neck and Shoulders Stretches:  Hold each stretch for 15-20 seconds

1. Neck Flexion- chin to chest

2. Neck Extension- Tilt head back

3. Neck lateral Rotation- Turn neck to the right and hold/ Turn neck to the left and hold

4. Neck lateral flexion- lower right ear toward right should & hold/ Lower left ear to left shoulder & hold

5. The Shoulder Shrug – Bring both shoulders up to ears and hold

Remember:  Take the Time to JUST BREATHE: Inhale from the abdomen hold and breath out.  Try these stretches and let us know if your mood improves.

If you or a family member needs help with depression contact the number below and they can help you find help in your area.



Massage therapy Principles and practice by Susan G Salvo

NCCT website:  “Depression” September 2012

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