What’s not to love about a good back massage? There are few things more relaxing than lying down and doing absolutely nothing for an hour while somebody kneads at your back with massage oil to relaxing music. According to new research, it turns out that massage may possibly also help alleviate symptoms of depression, too.
Overall, the studies, which were of "moderate" quality, showed that massage therapy had "potentially significant effects" in alleviating symptoms of depression, the researchers report in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
It’s not clear from the analysis, they emphasize, whether a person would need to undergo regular massage therapy for benefits to persist.
There are a number of ways through which massage could help people with depression, the researchers note, for example, by reducing stress and inducing relaxation; building an "alliance" between the therapist and patient; and by causing the body to release the "trust hormone" oxytocin.
Certainly, more follow-up research is needed for more conclusive evidence. For most people struggling with depression, one massage session will not cure all of one individual’s sadness, insecurities and emotional issues. Still, any research that points towards a natural depression treatment option that does not require medication is pretty exciting stuff.
What would happen if weekly massage sessions happened in conjunction with cognitive therapy? Then we are giving some major healing to the mind and the body.
I would like to add one more possible way massage can help people with depression: in taking the initiative to call a massage therapist to set up an appointment, you are making a big step to take better care of yourself. More than that, it is a powerful expression of some major self-love.
Have you been giving yourself enough self-love lately or have you been taking your mind and body for granted with inadequate sleep, long work hours and constant self-criticism? If the latter rings more true to you, then consider it a sign to dial up your local massage therapist for a future date. How does Saturday afternoon sound to you?