Massage and Your Mental Health
Everyone is affected by mental illness in some way, and no one is exempt. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), nearly one in five American adults (46.6 million) suffer from mental illness each year. Each year, 1 in 25 adults (11.2 million) will experience a serious mental illness that significantly limits their major life activities. It is good to know how massage and mental health go together for a better you.
It’s worth knowing that along with the right support from medical professionals, self-care, and the correct medication if needed, massage may have a part to play in supporting mental health. Research has shown that massage therapy can really help people dealing with depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions.
Depression and Anxiety
Two of the most commonly reported mental health issues in the US and beyond are depression and anxiety. According to studies, massage may be able to relieve symptoms while addressing the cause. The E-Da Hospital and College of Medicine in Taiwan reviewed 17 studies and concluded that massage had numerous benefits for depression. And that regular massage could potentially lead to a reduction in their symptoms. Another study found that massage seemed to activate the sympathetic nervous system. It helped to improve mood and reduce anxiety levels.
Experts think that massage therapy activates neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) that decrease anxiety and lower the stress hormones in your body. Researchers at the University of Miami School of Medicine revealed that massage therapy also worked well for people dealing with eating disorders and stress.
The research team found that brain chemicals serotonin and dopamine levels increased by an impressive 30 percent in the people who had massage therapy as part of their treatment. And that their levels of the stress hormone cortisol also dropped. Experts seem to agree that massage increases the feel-good hormones while zapping the stress-related ones.
Massage Works for Mental Illness and Physical Illness
If you’re dealing with serious and/or life-threatening illnesses, it can often lead to depression or anxiety. Sadly, it doesn’t help and can often make things even worse. Having a massage may not be a cure for all ills. But it can help someone dealing with a serious illness and unpleasant symptoms to improve their quality of life.
Healthcare providers often recommend massage therapy to people because of the minimal risk of side effects. This means that along with the benefits of a massage, there’s very little likelihood of causing any side effects. So massage can be used safely alongside medical treatments.
At the Columbia University Medical Center, experts studied children who were coping with cancer. They discovered that massage therapy helps them manage many of the unpleasant side effects of their cancer treatment, including pain, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, and reduced immune function.
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