Can Massages Help With Depression?

The Science of Massage:

"As it turns out, the benefits of massage cross over from physical health to mental health. An analysis of many studies found that depression, anxiety, and ratings of stress improved with massage therapy.

This is significant because depression is not merely having a low or irritable mood. Depression is a multifaceted condition that includes problems with:

  • Poor sleep

  • Weight loss without trying to lose weight

  • Lower levels of energy

  • Lower interest in activities you used to enjoy

  • Feeling slowed down

  • Feeling high levels of guilt with low self-esteem

  • Thinking a lot about death

  • Reduced ability to think clearly and concentrate

It seems that massage can aid in improving all of these symptoms to alleviate overall depression. The best part is that massage is not associated with a high risk of side effects or unwanted results like some other treatments."

  • Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands during times of stress. Problems emerge when your body is under high levels of stress and produces high levels of cortisol chronically. Too much of this substance is related to poor cell health that may lead to the death of cells and premature aging. Massage is shown to reduce current levels of cortisol in the body, which can boost mood, appetite, and ability to sleep.

  • Serotonin is the neurotransmitter most associated with depression. Many medications used for depression focus on increasing amounts of serotonin available in the brain. Low serotonin is related to low mood, poor sleep, poor memory, and low sexual desire. High amounts of serotonin are associated with good mood and happiness. Massage may decrease depression by triggering a surge of serotonin.

  • Oxytocin is often called the “cuddle hormone” because it is released during physical touches like hugs, kisses, and cuddles. High levels of oxytocin lead to someone feeling connected to the others in their life. Without this strong sense of belonging, a person can feel isolated, frustrated, and unhappy. Unsurprisingly, the physical touch of massage increases oxytocin.

  • Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that creates a rush of pleasure when available in the brain. It is a highly rewarding sensation that people try to recreate often. Many drugs like heroin and cocaine release dopamine to produce their addictive effects. To a lesser extent, dopamine may be released during massage.

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Article written by Eric Patterson for New Life Outlook