Most people associate massage therapy with relieving muscle tension occurred from stress, sports and chronic injuries like carpal tunnel. Have you heard the phrase, “Depression hurts”? Low energy, back pain, and unexplained muscle or joint aches are all barriers that often affect those with this illness. Taking time for massage is just as important for people dealing with depression to help alleviate the physical symptoms, and improve the person’s body-mind connection. When the body is relaxed, the mind can relax as well to help improve overall health aiding in stress management.
Those experiencing depression may vary from excessive sleeping to insomnia, and find that their sleep is often broken and unrefreshing. Studies have shown that infants with low birth weights and elders who received massage treatments benefited in positive sleep patterns, reduced breathing disorders such as snoring, increased daytime alertness with decreased sleep disruptions.
Not only does massage help promote a restful sleep (and maybe the desire for a post treatment nap), but it also affects the brain’s biochemistry. Cortisol is the body’s stress hormone, and is often elevated in those managing with depression. Increased cortisol can lead to weight gain, suppressed immune system, gastrointestinal problems, and suppresses serotonin. Depression may also make one feel as if everything is going a bit slower, resulting in increased pauses before answering, muteness, slowed speech and thinking. Studies done by the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine have shown that massage therapy significantly decreases cortisol levels up to 53%, while increasing serotonin, dopamine and endorphins. The neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin send signals to the brain to help balance mood, improve focus and immunity. Endorphins are responsible for diminishing pain, reducing stress and strengthening your heart.
By learning about the different symptoms you are raising awareness of those who may be suffering from depression around you, while helping to end the stigma of mental illness. By reducing the stigma, you create a positive and safe environment for those to come forward for treatment, reminding them that they are sick and not weak. As a massage therapist, I love my career, and the endless ways it allows me to help improve someone’s well being. I get to provide someone with an hour of quiet, or talking; whichever THEY need to feel better emotionally and physically. Which is also why I will be walking with the rest of my team at The Massage Clinic Health Centres, in the Defeat Depression Campaign. Oakville Defeat Depression Walk
One in five Canadians will at some point experience mental illness, interfering with daily activities, productivity at work, and spending time with family or friends. Depression affects more than 350 million worldwide, and can be caused by a traumatic event, life style, or often a chemical imbalance in the brain. It takes a toll on the body emotionally and physically, making every day a different struggle. Like cancer you can’t just snap out of it and similar to having a broken bone, be expected to suck it up. However, like many diseases, it is so important to have a support team beside you to help battle. And this is where massage therapy can be beneficial. Massage may not cure depression, but it can help manage the symptoms that come with the illness.
Chelsea Romany RMT Personal Trainer