How Massage Helps With Depression And Anxiety

Feelings of depression and anxiety can both quickly take over your life. You can’t function as you normally would any longer. Your family and social connections suffer, you may lose your job, and you don’t want to deal with the real world at all if it gets severe enough. There are a plethora of treatment options out there for these mental health conditions.

Some of the treatments for depression and anxiety are natural like a massage while others involve taking prescription medications. Depending on what kind of therapy you are looking for, you ultimately get to make the decision. However, you should be aware of why massage is vital for the reduction or elimination of depression and anxiety. Find out how it could benefit your situation before making your final treatment choice.

Why Massage is Important

While studies of massage and its importance in your life are still being done, there has been plenty of research completed on the topic. In essence, there is a reduction in stress, muscle tension, and pain that come with an effective massage therapy session. It is to be used in conjunction with other standard medical treatments. It should never be a replacement of regular care from a doctor even with all the benefits.

Some of the areas of health where massage is beneficial include:

    • Joint pain
    • Sports injuries
    • Insomnia from stress
    • Soft tissue injuries or strains
    • Headaches
    • Fibromyalgia
    • Depression
  • Anxiety

While all of these areas are important and could change your life if relieved with massage, anxiety and depression are the main focus right now.

Massage and Depression Case Studies

Massage was actually one of the first treatments that were ever used for people dealing with depression. Research completed by Dr. Wen-Hsuan Ho through 17 studies were done on 786 different patients. Four trials compared a control group with no treatment against a group that received massage therapy for depression along with rest or relaxation therapy.

During the studies, there were different methods used, and each was given a rating based on the quality. The final findings showed that massage therapy could, in fact, be a benefit when it came to symptoms of depression being alleviated.

Massage and Anxiety Research

Studies show that over 40 million American adults suffer from some kind of an anxiety disorder. While some treatment options available include taking medication, other research has shown that massage works in the treatment of the condition as well.

During one study done on people with generalized anxiety disorder, over the course of a six week period, patients were given a 45-minute Swedish massage therapy session twice a week. Other participants of the study were given light touch therapy. Through patient assessments done through self-reporting and their clinicians, it was shown that those that got the Swedish massage therapy had more reductions in anxiety-related symptoms than those that only were given the light touch therapy.

Best Type of Massage for Anxiety

There are countless different massage types and techniques. If you’ve ever been to a facility that offers massage, you have probably seen something that looks a bit like a menu when it comes to what they have available for choices. It can be overwhelming when trying to decide which type of massage to get. When it comes to the best massage for anxiety, there are a few that seem to provide the best results.

Swedish massage

Swedish massage is the most common form of massage therapy. There are combinations of movements used to relax the body and provide relief from stress.

Hot stone massage

When hot stone massage techniques are used, it allows the body to relax but not drift away because of the heat of the stones. Your muscle tension is released, the body calms down, and anxiety symptoms are alleviated as a result.

Shiatsu massage

Shiatsu massage focuses on specific points on the body and comes from ancient Japanese techniques. The purpose is to restore the balance of energy in the body. People that have received Shiatsu massage have reported stress relief.

Thai massage

Through Thai massage, your therapist will move your body around in poses that are similar to the ones that you see in yoga. It gives the body an energy boost yet relaxes you for better overall well-being and health.

Massage for Depression Techniques

There is a reason why massage therapy has been used in China for over 3,000 years. It is suggested by the professionals that use it for multiple treatments that the touch from massage releases various hormones in the body that improve a sense of connection to emotion. It calms the mind and boosts your mood while also alleviating pain and aches.

Massage alone isn’t going to cure depression. However, it can be a beneficial addition to other treatment types. Physical symptoms that come with depression like feeling sluggish, having back and joint pain, and muscle aches all get relieved.

There are different massage for depression techniques that your practitioner might use to help your mental health condition including:

  • Direct contact with the skin
  • Over the clothes methods
  • Stretching
  • Pressure
  • Rubbing
  • Scented oils
  • Acupuncture needles
  • Warm stones
  • Twisting poses

What methods are going to be most beneficial for you and your depressive state are going to be determined through a verbal consultation with your massage therapist or chiropractor that will be performing the movements.

How Often Should You Get a Massage for Anxiety or Depression

You may have walked in and gotten your first treatment for anxiety or depression through massage. Now that you are feeling better, you are wondering how often you should go back. That’s going to depend on the type of issue you are treating, how severe it is, and you. You are going to think that the more you go in, the better you are going to feel. While that seems logical, it isn’t necessarily the case.

Generally speaking, getting a massage once every week or two is plenty to give you the benefits that you are looking for. After the reduction in your symptoms starts to be apparent, you can increase the time between massages to once a month. That is something that you and your practitioner will be able to discuss and decide on as time goes on and changes start happening to your mental health state.


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