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Does a Swedish or deep tissue massage help with depression?


massage therapy helps in reducing depression, infographic.

As it turns out, the benefits of massage cross over from physical to mental health. An analysis of many studies found that depression, anxiety, and ratings of stress improved with massage therapy.

This is significant because depression is not merely a low or irritable mood. Depression is a multifaceted condition that includes problems with:

  • Poor sleep

  • Weight loss without trying to lose weight

  • Lower levels of energy

  • Lower interest in activities you used to enjoy

  • Feeling slowed down

  • Feeling high levels of guilt with low self-esteem

  • Thinking a lot about death

  • Reduced ability to think clearly and concentrate

It seems that massage can aid in improving all of these symptoms to alleviate overall depression. The best part is that massage is not associated with a high risk of side effects or unwanted results like other treatments."

  • Cortisol is a hormone that is produced during times of stress

  • by the adrenal glands . Problems emerge when your body is under high levels of stress and chronically releases high levels of cortisol. Too much of this substance is related to poor cell health, possibly leading to cell death and premature aging. Massage is shown to reduce current cortisol levels in the body, which can boost mood, appetite, and ability to sleep.

  • Serotonin is the neurotransmitter most associated with depression. Many medications for depression focus on increasing the amounts of serotonin available in the brain. Low serotonin is related to low mood, poor sleep, poor memory, and low sexual desire. High doses of serotonin are associated with good mood and happiness. Massage may decrease depression by triggering a surge of serotonin.

  • Oxytocin, is often called the "cuddle hormone" as it is released during physical touches like hugs, kisses, and cuddles. High levels of oxytocin lead to someone feeling connected to others in their life. A person can feel isolated, frustrated, and unhappy without this strong sense of belonging. Unsurprisingly, the physical touch of massage increases oxytocin.

  • Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that creates a rush of pleasure when available in the brain. It is a highly rewarding sensation that people try to recreate often. Many drugs like heroin and cocaine release dopamine to produce their addictive effects. To a lesser extent, dopamine may be removed during a massage.

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