With modern medications causing so many side effects while helping people fight off depression and other mental illnesses, the last two decades have seen a sudden rise in research to find alternatives with fewer unwanted problems. Massage therapy has been a popular way to deal with stress and physical pain for centuries, but only recently has proof emerged to show it is effective in treating less tangible health problems too. Discover five proven ways massage can help you manage your mental health challenges with fewer side effects.
Reducing the Symptoms of Depression
While depression is a mental illness, it causes a surprising number of physical symptoms. It's often these physical effects that weigh more heavily on the patient than the mental side of the disease. Physical depression symptoms alleviated by massage include
- Insomnia, either in the form of trouble falling or staying asleep
- Back pain and muscle cramps throughout the body
- Migraines and tension headaches
- Fatigue and low energy levels.
Of course, massage has been proven to do more than just relieve the physical symptoms associated with this common mental illness. Recent studies reveal that twice a week massages provide significant relief of the emotional symptoms of depression too.
Settling Uncomfortable Anxiety
All the anxiety disorders vary in the symptoms they cause, but treatments remain similar regardless of whether you're struggling with panic attacks or agoraphobia. When your mind tries to convince you that everyday situations are a matter of life and death, you end up with muscle tension and soreness that is easily fixed with a little massage. Aside from feeling relaxed and free from low grade pain, you'll also enjoy a decrease in the hormones linked with anxiety, in addition to an increase in brain neurotransmitters known to lower anxiety levels.
Releasing Stress From All Sources
Stress is one of the most common causes linked to mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. Even if your health problems are not caused entirely by stress, the weight of dealing with responsibilities at work, taking care of your family, and dealing with loss makes it much harder to stay in control. Weekly or monthly massages are a smart way to manage your stress levels and reduce relapses when your mental illness is already under control. If you're still struggling to find relief through medication and therapy, massage prevents the stress of these struggles from sabotaging your efforts.
Managing Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder
Don't forget that Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is considered a mental illness rather than a physical one. This disorder primarily affects children, but most of the medications available for managing the symptoms are not approved for use in minors and may put their health at risk. New research show that students given regular massage treatments rated themselves as more content, in addition to receiving praise from teachers for being more focused on their work. It's still unknown exactly how massage increases the ADHD patient's ability to focus, but the lack of unpleasant side effects means it's well worth giving a try.
Preventing Isolation and Loneliness
Consider the healing power of simply connecting with someone too. Many people with mental illness face loneliness and isolation, either by choice or due to rejection. Touch alone is surprisingly powerful at improving the mood and physical health of a patient, and massage is all about touch.
Talk to your therapist or psychiatrist about adding regular massage appointments to your mental health treatment plan. They can help you track the results over time so you know if it's working for you or not, especially since most patients end up paying for therapeutic massage out of their own pockets.