You can take it for granted that massage benefits your physical health. It relaxes you, of course, but more than that, it lowers your serum cholesterol levels and boosts your immune function. These are two very important aspects of staying well. This means that it really does support and promote general good health.
As good as massage is for the body, its wonderful work doesn’t stop with the physical. It is also known to positively impact mood and disposition.
Beyond the Physical
Medical researchers have found massage therapy to be beneficial to those grappling with mental health issues like anxiety and depression. It often serves as a complementary treatment to patients undergoing psychotherapy.
Hospitals and research facilities have found that massage soothes patients’ psychological distress and causes symptoms of depression to be reduced. How exactly does massage accomplish this?
1. It stimulates serotonin production.
Serotonin is a chemical and neurotransmitter in the brain responsible for regulating mood. As a matter of fact, depression is linked to lower or irregular levels of serotonin.
Massage is often recommended to those who suffer from low serotonin levels since it stimulates the body to produce more serotonin. Research shows that those who get regular massage experience improved serotonin levels, which consequently causes depression and pain symptoms to ease.
2. It increases dopamine levels.
Massage also activates dopamine release. This is another neurotransmitter that is associated with feeling good. It has a major role in motivation and reward. In fact, the feeling of satisfaction from achieving a goal can be partly attributed to a rush of dopamine.
A dysfunction in the dopamine system is linked to the main symptoms of depression. Serotonin, on the other hand, has to do with how you process your feelings, which greatly impacts your mood.
3. It reduces stress hormones.
Reports also state that regular massage diminishes the presence of “fight or flight” hormones in the body.
The way the sympathetic nervous system works, the “fight or flight” hormones – adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine – show up when you’re stressed. When the presence of these hormones is reduced, your mood significantly improves.
Studies indicate that receiving regular massage leads to the abatement of certain negative feelings. Massage helps diminish not only sadness, but anger and stress as well.
The healing properties of massage are acknowledged by the health and wellness industry. Massage therapy is known to help with the symptoms of various medical conditions, including many mood related disorders, such as the following:
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
In many cases, massage therapy has also been used to improve the mood of patients in order to support the success of treatment. Depression and stress hinder healing, so massage is often used to boost mood for better treatment outcomes.
Help with Veterans
To further stress the benefits of massage on mental health, it is being used to help reintegrate those returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. Massage helps many veterans experience relief from physical pain and mental anguish, easing anxiety, depression, irritability, tension, and worry.
Many restoration and convalescence centers for veterans integrate massage into their rigorous and comprehensive therapy programs. The different components of these therapies help those suffering from posttraumatic stress learn to relax, turn off their hyperactive survival mechanisms, and sleep better.
The Popularity of Massage Therapy
The health benefits of massage reach deep into your body, mind, and spirit. It helps even the most serious physical and mental conditions. In fact, there is even massage for dementia.
It’s no surprise that massage is very much in demand these days. It does such wonders on the whole person that people with varying degrees and kinds of discomfort seek it.
It’s important, however, to receive ministrations from a professional who has impressive massage qualifications with specialized training from a respected massage therapy school. Those who don’t know what they’re doing may end up doing damage instead of good.
Marc Innes is the Owner and Principal of the School of Natural Therapies, a training school for Massage & Holistic Therapies located in London. Marc began his career in the NHS, working in a number of managerial and training roles within the Ambulance Service in London. He spent much of that time educating and coaching medical staff. Over time, he developed an interest in all things complementary to Allopathic Medicine, in particular, Reiki Healing and EFT, which culminated in running a successful teaching and ‘energy healing’ practice. Marc is passionate about the massage and complementary therapy industry.