Massage Therapy Benefits
Massage can relieve stress. Depression and anxiety can interfere in social functioning and lead to increased risk of unemployment, illness, and even death. They can play an aggravating role in other health conditions and render an individual more vulnerable to disease. While anxiety and depression can often be treated successfully with medications, psychotherapy, or a combination of both, these options are not always sufficient, desirable, or available. Some individuals may be unable or unwilling to take medications because of health conditions, drug interactions, personal beliefs, or unpleasant side effects. Psychotherapy is not available in all communities and may be prohibitively expensive and time-consuming.
Research has shown that massage therapy benefits act on both anxiety and depression.
Early research showed that half hour of daily massage therapy to hospitalized depressed adolescents over a 5 day period brought about an improvement in mood and behavior. Since then, many studies have documented that massage therapy can have a beneficial effect on depression and anxiety. In fact, it is one of the most consistently documented results of massage.
Depression and anxiety can be very serious and massage therapy should not be a replacement for proper medical attention when it is needed. Clients and therapists alike should recognize its limitations. However, one of the advantages of massage therapy is the ease of access. No prescription is needed and one does not typically need to wait weeks or months for an appointment. Gentle massage should have no detrimental side effects and social stigma is generally absent. Mild benefit is often felt immediately and even greater benefit can come from a series of sessions. All these factors may make it an appealing resource for the person living with anxiety or depression.
Clients suffering from anxiety or depression should inform their massage therapist so they can treat appropriately. Professional massage therapists are expected to respect client confidentiality. Clients do not need to be embarrassed and do not need to reveal details which they might prefer to keep private.
Massage therapists should familiarize themselves with common mental health problems, assess anxiety and depression during intake, and inform clients who admit to anxiety or depression that massage therapy may help.
Living with anxiety and depression is a painful and distressing experience. Proper treatment is important. Massage therapy can be of benefit. Please, if you know someone who is suffering from anxiety and depression, urge them to get the care they need so that they can go on to live a more successful and productive life.