By Colleen Miller, CMT
Much medical research is beginning to lead to the conclusion that massage can have a major effect in reducing the symptoms of depression. Massage promotes relaxation and well-being. The skin and muscles are densely packed with nerves which play directly into the central nervous system. Massage improves blood and lymph circulation, reduces nerve irritation and brings fresh oxygen and other nutrients to the affected tissues. Massage may also cause the body to produce fewer stress hormones like cortisol and norepinephrine (adrenaline), and may also increase the body's production of pain killing endorphins and mood-altering hormone serotonin. (Serotonin allows a person to maintain context-appropriate behavior; that is, to do the appropriate thing at the appropriate time.) Massage also helps stimulate the body to eliminate toxins. This further enhances a positive mood.
Massage has many positive effects on depressed clients. Massage feels good -people have believed in the healing power of touch for ages. Research shows that premature babies that are held tend to grow more quickly and have fewer health problems. Severely physically or mentally ill persons who are held or touched also tend to recover sooner. Not only does massage help to alleviate pain and reduce stress, it promotes healing of psychiatric problems. Child and adolescent psychiatric patients showed more open verbal communication, improved sleep, less depression, and lower anxiety levels. Clinical progress increased. A lonely, depressed person feels more alive after a massage (increase in serotonin and oxytocin; decrease in cortisol). People just feel better, cope more easily, and have more joy when massaged.
Massage is one the best known methods for warding off the detrimental effects of stress upon the body. Make massage part of your preventative health care plan. It can certainly help us to better cope with, and improve, our quality of life. Revive, refresh, and realign your body, mind, and spirit!