Massage Therapy and Depression

Let me start this post by saying, I am NOT a doctor, psychologist, psychiatrist, psychotherapist, I am posting this from a massage therapy standpoint, and from personal experience with depression.  


According to the Mayo Clinic, the definition of Depression is “A medical illness that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Depression can cause physical symptoms, too.

Also called major depression, major depressive disorder and clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave. Depression can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and depression may make you feel as if life isn’t worth living.

More than just a bout of the blues, depression isn’t a weakness, nor is it something that you can simply “snap out” of. Depression is a chronic illness that usually requires long-term treatment, like diabetes or high blood pressure. But don’t get discouraged. Most people with depression feel better with medication, psychological counseling or other treatment.”

I suffer from depression, I was at one point on medication for it.  Over the years I have been on many different kinds of antidepressants that did help, however the side effects were not great.   When I started massage therapy school I was not on my antidepressants(due to financial issues and no health insurance) and I was suffering for it.  I ended up in a position where I was getting almost daily massage therapy(one of the best parts of massage therapy school).  I personally didn’t notice right away that my symptoms of depression were subsiding because I was so absorbed in the learning process*.  It was my mom who noticed that my Facebook post were becoming less negative, and much more positive and hopeful, and our phone calls where much more upbeat.  It was after massage therapy school that I really did notice the difference.  Now, I have to admit, once massage therapy school was over I was not, and am not getting massage therapy as frequently as I would like, however I have started making it higher on my priority list.  I do notice bouts of depression here and there, not nearly as bad as before, and that’s when I realize I am overdue for a massage.

So here is what the Mayo Clinic has to say about Alternative Therapies for Depression:

“Mind-body connections
The connection between mind and body has been studied for centuries. Complementary and alternative medicine practitioners believe the mind and body must be in harmony for you to stay healthy.

Mind-body techniques that may be tried to ease depression symptoms include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Guided imagery
  • Massage therapy

As with dietary supplements, take care in using these techniques. Although they may pose less of a risk, relying solely on these therapies is not enough to treat depression.”

What type of massage therapy modalities are recommended?  For most regular Swedish Massage at a pressure that is comfortable can be helpful, some prefer Deep Tissue Massage, and others may choose Cranial Sacral.  What I guess I am trying to say is find the massage modality, and the massage therapist, that works for you.  Noticeable effects won’t happen overnight, my personal preference is weekly or every other week massage therapy sessions, but you will need to find what works for you.  Once again consult with your physician or healthcare professional before starting and/or stopping any therapies!

I welcome all feedback!  Be well!

*Massage Therapy School is not a bunch of people just learning to give a massage, we learn Anatomy(bones, bony landmarks, muscles, muscle attachments, and what each muscle does), Physiology(how the systems of our body’s work, why, and the effects massage therapy has on them), Pathology, Business, and Ethics, and it’s not exactly easy.

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