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Depression is a serious illness with equally serious repercussions for patients and their families. Sixteen million adults in the United States experienced at least one major depressive episode in 2015 alone, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Find out how complementary and alternative treatments like massage therapy can have an impact on this potentially devastating condition.

What is Depression?

Everyone feels sad from time to time, just as everyone will experience stress or worry. Major depression, however, is more than feeling blue on occasion. A major depressive episode is defined as a period of at least two weeks, during which patients feel the loss of interest in things they once enjoyed, lack of pleasure and/or depressed mood. 

During this period, at least four other symptoms that indicate a change in functioning are required for a diagnosis. These can include sleep interferences, changes in appetite or energy levels, difficulty concentrating, recurring thoughts of death or suicide and changes in self-image. For many patients, chronic pain and depression go together. 

Adult women are almost twice as likely to experience a major depressive episode, with patients between the ages of 18 and 25 showing the highest prevalence of these episodes. Patients of all ages and genders, from all walks of life, can experience depression. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are of vital importance for those living with depression, but sometimes prescription medications and talk therapy simply aren't enough. 

Massage Therapy as Treatment for Depression

While a soothing massage can help ease aches and chronic musculoskeletal pains, this isn't all there is to massage therapy. Addressing the pain which is often part of living with depression is only one of the ways massage therapy can help. Shown to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, lower norepinephrine levels and increase serotonin production, massage therapy can and does have a real and measurable effect on brain activity. When used in conjunction with talk therapy and medication, it can be a very powerful weapon in the arsenal for your fight against depression. 

Massage therapy is non-invasive and considered the very low risk for most patients, though those with some medical conditions or specific injuries should be sure to speak with a physician before integrating this powerful therapy into their overall depression treatment routine. 

By establishing a relationship with a licensed, professional massage therapist, you can take a more active role in treating your depression while enjoying the relaxation, pain reduction and increased quality of life associated with massage. Because this treatment is recognized as safe, low-risk and effective, some health insurance plans will even cover a number of sessions. 

Living with depression can be challenging, especially when you no longer have an interest in the things that once mattered deeply. Taking back your life can feel like an uphill battle, but there is a wealth of tools and treatment options at your disposal that can make a very real difference in your life. Consider working with a massage therapist to treat the physical and emotional pain of depression.

Massage Therapy, Depression


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