Can Massage Help With Depression?

One definition of depression can be found in the dictionary as “a condition of general emotional dejection and withdrawal; sadness greater and more prolonged than that warranted by any objective reason.” Not all people with depressive illnesses will have the same symptoms. The National Institute of Mental Health states, “The severity, frequency and duration of symptoms will vary depending on the individual and his or her particular illness.”

Symptoms include:

  • Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
  • Insomnia, early–morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Overeating, or appetite loss
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment

When your muscles and connective tissues become stiff or rigid, it can cause pain and limit your movement. Massage therapy can help relieve this tension in your muscles and connective tissues. It also increases your blood flow and promotes relaxation. 

If you have depression, massage therapy probably won’t cure your condition. But it may help relieve the physical symptoms associated with it. For example, massage may help alleviate sluggishness, back pain, joint pain, and muscle aches. It can also help relieve fatigue and sleeping problems.

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