Amy Marsolek, L.M.T.
Can massage relieve symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress?
Stress is an inevitable part of life. It is nearly impossible to remove all stress from day-to-day life. Stress is physiological and psychological responses to situations the body and mind find to be overwhelming.
Even situations perceived as good, like getting married, starting a new job or becoming a parent, can produce significant stress. When people struggle to cope with stressful situations, depression and anxiety symptoms can become more noticeable.
Massage therapy is one of many ways to cope with stress, and treat anxiety and depression.
Some people mistakenly believe that massage therapy is only for pampering yourself. While this is true for some people, it also helps manage anxiety, depression and insomnia.
Physical benefits of massage
A massage does more than just feel good. It can lower the amount of cortisol in your body. This hormone is produced when your body is stressed. It increases glucose in your bloodstream, enhances your brain's use of glucose and curbs functions that are nonessential in a fight-or-flight situation.
A one-hour massage lowers cortisol in your body while also releasing serotonin. This hormone neurotransmitter is sometimes called the "happy chemical" because it reduces feelings of depression and carries signals between nerves and your body. By lowering cortisol and increasing serotonin, you're boosting your body's ability to fight off pain, anxiety and feelings of sadness.
Also, massage could be considered an hourlong hug, as it can fulfill the need for human contact and comforting touch. A session provides you with a nurturing safe place to physically rest.
Emotional benefits of massage
Massage provides many emotional benefits, which can be just as important as the physical benefits. Many people say that after a massage they feel more relaxed and calmer. It a safe and nurturing place for people to refocus and find clarity.
Massage can lower stress levels and feelings of anxiety. It can improve mood and relaxation while increasing confidence and self-image.
If you experience depression or anxiety, or are just overloaded with extra stress, massage can be an effective part of treatment. It can create a sense of relief and empowerment, and allow you to focus on your mind-body connection.
Massage therapists listen to your needs and concerns. They can develop a treatment plan to decrease stress and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Sessions range from 15 to 90 minutes in length. Therapeutic massage may help support you on your mental health journey.Amy Marsolek is a massage therapist in La Crosse, Wisconsin.