In 1949 the National Association for Mental Health launched a campaign to raise mental health awareness. Since then May has been dedicated as a month to raise awareness, educate, and reduce the stigma that surrounds mental illness as well as offer strategies to attain mental health and wellness.
Two of the most common mental health issues are depression and anxiety. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America these illnesses affect approximately 3.3 million American adults.
For people suffering from depression and/or anxiety research has shown that the combination of psychotherapy and massage therapy work in harmony to reduce symptoms. Here’s how massage helps with anxiety and depression:
Anxiety is accompanied by muscular tension, restlessness, fatigue, problems in concentration and oftentimes sleep problems. Though many assume the go to relaxation method for dealing with this type of tension should be body focused, research shows that facial massage provides amazing benefits for those suffering from anxiety.
Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan conducted a study which evaluated the subject’s moods using the Profile of Mood States (POMS) and State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) both before and after a facial massage. Results showed a significant boost to the mental state of its subjects and noted facial massage both reduced triggers that bring people down and activated subjects physically leaving them feeling renewed and refreshed. Scores showed that facial massage reduced anxiety and negative moods and increased sympathetic nervous activity.
Another study conducted at the University of Miami School of Medicine found that massage therapy activated neurotransmitters, resulting in decreased anxiety levels and lower stress hormone levels. Researchers found that the benefits of massage therapy positively affected people who were experiencing a range of mental health issues. The results show about a 30% increase in serotonin and dopamine levels in participants who. In addition they found a reduction in the stress hormone, cortisol. These results demonstrate the power of massage and it’s ability to decrease stress levels and increase feel-good neurotransmitters.
In another study recently conducted by the Mayo Clinic, they focused on work related stress for health care practitioners. They studied thirty eight nurses who received a chair massage once a week for ten weeks during work hours. This massage technique is one of the quickest and simplest forms of massage therapy and the results were astounding. The nurses who received chair massages showed a significant reduction in stress related symptoms including physical pain and tension, insomnia, headaches and fatigue.
No matter your line of work, one thing is clear – massage therapy promotes mental health and overall well being!
** While depression and anxiety can be appropriate for certain life circumstances, if your are experiencing it regularly or in disproportion to the actual events in your life reach out to your healthcare provider about your treatment options. **