Benefits of Massage Therapy for Depression

Depression is a central nervous system disorder,  which is influenced by a genetic predisposition, physiological changes, and a triggering event, whose consequences interfere with the sufferer’s ability to enjoy life. Your vulnerability to depression depends on the efficiency of your Stress Response System, which links your central nervous system and endocrine system.

Your Stress Response System

A healthy Stress Response System produces reactions that are appropriately gauged to the circumstances. When working properly, a devastating situation produces a major reaction, whereas a simply annoying situation triggers a less dramatic response. In contrast, depressed people often have a defective Stress Response System. They react strongly to minor inconveniences, and the consequences of their stress reaction will stay with them for days after the stimulating event has occurred.

Stress and Touch

The results of numerous studies reveal that animals lacking tactile stimulation experience slower, longer lasting and more frequent stress responses than animals who are regularly touched. Consider the implications for two-legged animals. To exacerbate the situation, depressed human beings often isolate themselves from the rest of the world, eliminating the possibility of ever being touched by another individual. Massage therapy might offer a possible solution.

Depression and Pain

Depression often manifests itself as chronic physical pain. Whilst psychotherapists can talk to depressed patients about their mental state, massage therapists have the tools to alleviate the physical manifestations of depression. This structural collapse usually involves:

  •  A shortening of the abdominal muscles and a tightening of the diaphragmatic arch which pulls the chest down and forward, limiting its ability to expand during breathing.
  • Medial rotation of the shoulders and internal rotation of the arms resulting in a kyphosis that further restricts breathing.
  • A lack of thoracic support,  which moves the head and neck forward and downward
  • A domino theory effect on the lower body, which places tension on the hips, lower back, legs and feet

Massage, often combined with Clinical Pilates and personal training, can manipulate some of the structural damage caused by depression. Fixing this damage will alleviate pain, and alleviating pain might mitigate depression. Furthermore, releasing the tension around the neck, shoulders upper back and diaphragm area facilitates better breathing, which helps keep anxiety reactions in check.

Massage and Cortisol

Researchers at the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami discovered that massage therapy helps alleviate depression and anxiety by minimizing the levels of cortisol, known as the “flight or flight” mechanism in the body. The research team measured the stress hormone cortisol in participants before and immediately after massage and reported that the therapy significantly lowered levels. The team also found that the massages also elevated levels of serotonin, dopamine and other crucial mood-stabilizing neurotransmitters in the brain.

Don’t allow depression to rule your life. Our massage therapists can help.

Contact us on (08) 9272 7359 now to set an appointment.