A number of studies have found massage therapy helpful in alleviating the symptoms of depression. Massage therapy is done by a trained massage therapist who manipulates the body with pressure, tension, motion, and vibration. This is accomplished manually with hands, fingers, elbows, and forearms or with mechanical aids.
The massage therapist targets a variety of body tissues, including muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin, joints, and other connective tissue. Massage therapists also stimulate and increase blood flow to lymphatic vessels, organs, and the gastrointestinal system. There are many types of massage, such as Swedish, hot stone, deep tissue, shiatsu, and reflexology.
Massage therapy can be been particularly helpful when combined with aromatherapy. In a study of 72 children and adolescents with adjustment disorder and depression, participants received either a 30-minute back massage daily for 5 days or watched a relaxing video for the same period. Depression scores were significantly lower in the massage group.
A comprehensive study of massage with depressed patients determined that the benefits of massage with depression was due to a physiological response in the body. According to the study, “The general effect appears to derive from the stimulation of pressure receptors slowing physiology which in turn facilitates a more relaxed behavioral state, effects a decrease in stress hormones, most particularly cortisol, and an increase in immune function, particularly natural killer cells.”
When you are looking for a massage therapist there are a few things that you should be aware of. Due to the variance from state to state regarding educational requirements, feel free to ask prospective therapists about their training. They should be able to tell you how many hours they spent in schooling, where they went to school and even more important, if they are licensed through a regulatory body. Belonging to a regulatory body is good as far as being a client goes because it implies that the therapist has had to adhere to certain standards of education and also usually indicates that the therapist maintains continuing education.
Never be afraid to ask to see a therapist’s credentials. Most therapists worked hard to obtain their education and various skills and should have no problem showing off their certifications. Other things to ask include fees, cancellation policy, and any other general business policies that may affect you such as preferred method of payment.
Another effective practice is to ask for personal recommendations or references from current clients. Word of mouth is an effective tool also, but talking to a real client can help you to understand what the therapist offers, and how they operate their business. You can also explore the various modalities offered by the therapist, and if you are unsure what something means, ask.
Most therapists have literature available for clients to explain what the different techniques are and what they generally entail. This can also include an explanation of what to expect during a treatment, for example, if you have to remain clothed or have to undress. By doing your research, you may find it easier to locate the best therapist for you. If you find that you are not satisfied, make sure to communicate your reasons for moving on to your therapist, and remember, not every therapist and/or modality is for everyone. It can take time to find a therapist that is the right fit for you.