Health Media Today
Health Media Today is a leading network of Canadian Health and Wellness web sites. The network provides the latest news, advice and opinions from Canadians for Canadians.
Can Massage Really Help Treat Anxiety and Depression
Author : Carolyn Eagle, Senior Editor, Health Media Today Category : Health and Wellness
In North America, massage therapy is viewed primarily as a way to relax and take care of sore, overworked muscles. We imagine quiet rooms, soothing music and relaxing scented oils; a feeling of indulgence and pampering. But it’s important to get the word out there that Swedish massage (the type that we are most familiar with in North America) has been proven to be an effective treatment for anxiety and depression.
There are writings as early as 3000BC China about therapeutic massage and other mentions have been found in ancient Rome, Greece, India, Japan, Egypt and Mesopotamia. What did they know that we may be ignoring?
New studies are now showing that massage can actually affect the body’s biochemistry by lowering cortisol levels. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone, and as levels increase, we are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels and a suppressed immune system. In studies by the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine, cortisol levels in patients suffering from depression or anxiety decreased by up to 53% after a massage.
In addition, massage has been shown to increase our body’s levels of serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters that are know as the “happy” or “feel good” hormones. Low serotonin levels have long been linked with feelings of depression and anxiety, and the purpose of antidepressant prescription medication is to level out these hormones in order to improve mood.
Many sufferers of depression and anxiety also suffer from body aches and pains, hot flashes, and other physical symptoms that do not seem to have their root in their mental state rather than in a particular physical ailment. Massage therapy is extremely effective in helping to treat the muscular aches and pains that are so often associated with depressions and can decrease the patient’s dependency on pain relievers.
While massage therapy is no replacement for proper diagnosis and treatment from a physician, it can be a part of an effective treatment plan that helps increase energy and help to move out of depression and towards overall health.