There are many reasons that someone might feel depressed, whether its the winter blues, a death, a break-up with a significant other, or genetic. Whatever the reason, no one likes to feel depressed, and now there is even more research showing natural ways to help alleviate depression symptoms. Chronic physical pain can often lead to depression, and depression can often cause physical pain. This is why there are quite a few of my clients who come for pain relief who also suffer from depression. Although I am a massage therapist, and not a psychotherapist; but since depression has major physiological and anatomical components massage can have a significant and profound effect against the diseases symptoms.
Treatment with Massage
Depression can leave a person suffering from it physically and energetically exhausted. This is where massage and energy work, such as Reiki and Shamanism, can help in ways that a psychotherapist or depression medication cannot. When someone suffers from depression their muscles will often constrict possibly because they cannot get out of bed and instead lie there in a fetal position or they feel so sluggish that their body is almost collapsing in on itself because the energy and desire to hold oneself up straight and with confidence is no longer there. Therefore, the abdominal muscles shorten, the diaphragmatic muscles tighten pulling the chest down, and the upper back muscles lengthen as the shoulders round forward creating a kyphosis (or hunchback); these positions limit the ability of the diaphragm to arch down towards the abdomen, which would then allow the lungs to expand and take in a full breath of air. All this distortion in the upper body will eventually lead to even more distortion in the lower body throwing everything off balance and continuing to cause dis-ease in the body.
The benefits of massage:
When the client suffering from depression goes to a massage therapist with the above structural distortion, the therapist's goal is to correct the closing up of the body to allow the client to stand up straight and feel supported by their own body, as well as allowing them to breath in oxygen to their bodies full potential. As this release and opening of the body happens, and as air flows more freely in their body the client should begin to feel more hope, support, and strength.
Key areas of the body a massage therapist should work on to release above misalignment:
1) the abdomen;
2) the intercostals, pectoralis muscles, and connective tissue in the front of the chest which are the culprits for causing a sunken chest and medial rotation of the shoulders;
3) the muscles and connective tissue of the shoulder's and upper arms that cause an internal rotation of the arms; and
4) the scalenes, trapezius, sternocleidomastoid, and rhomboid muscles and connective tissue of the neck, shoulders, and upper back.
Furthermore, a review of more than a dozen massage studies conducted by the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine concludes that massage therapy relieves depression and anxiety by affecting the body's biochemistry. In a series of studies including about 500 men, women, and children with depression or stress problems, researchers measured the stress hormone cortisol in participants before and immediately after massage and found that the therapy lowered levels by up to 53%. (Cortisol can drive up blood pressure and blood sugar levels and suppress the immune system.) Massage also increased serotonin and dopamine, which are neurotransmitters that help reduce depression.
So let's realign our bodies, breath deeper, and increase our serotonin and dopamine with massage so that we can kick depression to the curb!!
Here's to feeling good!!