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Treating Depression, Part I

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Can massage therapy alleviate symptoms of depression?

When you are a massage therapist, you get the chance to meet many people, and if you have a proactive attitude towards life in general, like I do, you get to offer professional help.

When I opened my Houston Medical Massage facility, I concentrated my efforts on deep tissue massage techniques, or use a variety of massage therapy techniques for those who are under high stress. Many times, the approach seemed quite obvious: “My back hurts all day” – a client says to me. I am a licensed massage therapist who knows very well how to alleviate this kind of medical condition. It is also easy for the clients to understand their circumstances.

But what about those suffering from depression? Depression certainly can manifest itself at a physical level, but by then it is also probably deeply set in. It is not rare for someone to go through a mild case of depression one time or another in their lifetime. When depression starts to creep in, we may not be able to point a finger at a particular body part to a massage therapist, but we certainly have the power to do something about it.

Depression can be helped with drugs, professional counseling, and through the use of specific massage techniques to ease the mind. A professional licensed massage therapist knows the positive effects of a body in complete control of itself, and one that is at ease. We perceive reality through our senses, and our sense of well being through our bodies. A study on adolescent mothers, all suffering from depression, brought light to the fact that just two massage therapy sessions a week can greatly reduce anxiety, a decrease in anxious behavior, and a diminished heart rate (physical evidence) and cortisol (chemical) levels. These studies confirm the influence of the power of touch that, executed by professional hands, can have a positive impact on your body and help balance your mind.

Field, T., Grizzle, N., Scafidi, F., & Schanberg, S. (1996).
Massage and relaxation therapies’ effects on depressed adolescent mothers.
Adolescence, 31, 903-911.

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