Depression: How Massage Therapy Can Assist

 

Massage Therapy does not cure woman watching a train pass by Depression, but there is strong evidence that massage therapy can be effective for reducing the negative impact on a person’s health that symptoms of depression can proliferate.

Depression defined

On their website, the Mayo Clinic defines Depression as “a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest” and goes on to say that this disorder “can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems”. Anyone who has experienced Depression or has seen it at work can attest to the accuracy of this generalized description. It is always recommended that, as a clinical diagnosis, a potential patient of Major Depressive Disorder be seen, evaluated, and diagnosed by an appropriate medical professional before adopting any treatment – with proper treatment, Depression is both preventable and recoverable.

How the AMTA says massage therapy helps

As of 2011, the American Massage Therapy Association (of which I am a 15-year member) states that “massage therapy can be effective in reducing the symptoms of depression” – a position and an opinion that many medical organizations, like the Mayo Clinic, the American Medical Association, and the National Institute of Health have been cited as supporting.

How other sources support that massage therapy helps

There are also some massage-therapy-professional and public-massage-advocate resources that feature and illustrate how massage therapy assists in alleviating the effects of some specific types of Depression. This is a very small sampling of the many online publications that address massage therapy for:

Postpartum Depression – MASSAGE Magazine

Depressed People (meta-analysis) – Journal of Clinical Psychiatry

Breast Cancer – Prevention Magazine

Situational Depression – Massage Today

How I have seen that massage therapy helps

Any anecdotal information presented by individual practitioners and clients having experienced clinical Depression and that tout positive results are just the start of the body of common sense that supports massage therapy’s positive effects on the human body.

I have seen and worked with clients who have appeared depressed – if not recognized, it can go untreated, unaddressed, and eventually get worse. A person, as an organic being, without touch can wither like a flower without water. Massage Therapy can be the sunshine or the water for that person who needs fortifying, the very basics of emotional maturity and spiritual growth that have been proven, over and over again and when present, to make humans stronger, healthier, and happier…a better Quality of Life. I feel like the massage therapy I provide from time to time has helped people have more energy, increase self-value, sleep better, better posture through natural muscle-lengthening…and the list goes on.

Why “Massage Therapy for Depression”?

It’s Clean – It is a different method for the body to deal with stress: non-pharmaceutical methods of ‘treatment’ have become a preferred way – for patients and doctors, alike – to deal with life’s curve balls – drugs are becoming, more and more, a last resort for those in pain, so massage therapy is a good choice as a first attempt or clean attempt at addressing serious emotional and spiritual issues that can be resolved in a session or two of a touch therapy, like massage therapy. Even long-term use of massage therapy has been demonstrated to be good maintenance for sufferers of chronic depressive states. There are also considerably lower chances of becoming addicted to massage therapy as opposed to a pharmaceutical/biological interaction and chance of subsequent dependency on that drug for the body – I’m not saying it’s impossible to be addicted to massage therapy, but massage therapy’s effects on the body are of a shorter lifespan than those of drugs that may have after-treatment effects lasting for years.

Reconnection – If one is withdrawn as a side-effect of depression, a non-judgmental, compassionate touch – even once, during a massage therapy session of any length – can be a person’s reintroduction to the world; massage therapy can change perspectives of doubt and low self-esteem into confidence and higher self-worth and re-establish a unique sense of trust – to begin [again] with: between client and practitioner.

Reaffirmation of Goals – One may think that massage therapy is a luxury as opposed to being a necessity. When other options for one’s getting back on the horse [i.e. recovering from Depression] have been exhausted or deemed a last resort, massage therapy becomes a way to re-establish the value of one’s goals. Physically changing one’s outlook on life can be as simple as changing one’s posture – or using the assistive nature of massage therapy to help with that. Self-care is not a luxury in this case: I believe if one doesn’t take care of one’s self, one can’t help others, SO: getting a massage to make one’s self emotionally feel better is not a far stretch when one considers all the ways massage therapy can assist one in also physically ‘feeling better’ in order to get back to achieving goals one has in life.

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If a life event, news, or illness is leaving you unusually, deeply, irreconcilably, or incorrigibly depressed, leaving you absent, disabled, or unproductive, then you may be experiencing Clinical Depression – talk with your doctor about how massage therapy may be able to assist in keeping the symptoms of Depression fewer and/or less intense – many doctors know about how massage therapy can assist in reducing the effects of Depression and will be able to refer you to a massage therapist.

And, if they don’t: get them started by sharing this article with them. Mental health, like physical health, can be addressed and resolved with human touch modalities, like massage therapy.

 

Resources:

D avid J Otto, LMT BCTMB operates Hands In Motion in Las Vegas, Nevada, since 2003, assisting his clients achieve their wellness goals using massage therapy. He also volunteers with the AMTA’s Nevada Chapter and is the Director of Operations at Anatriptic Arts in Las Vegas. When he’s not working with his clients, you can find David running on the city streets, training for his next big race.

Bodies on the Table: Blood Circulation

The second article in this series addresses another way your body responds to bodywork, massage therapy specifically – it is the aspect of circulation.  Increasing circulation of many of the body’s fluids is a benefit that is innate to the pushing, pulling, and stretching that accompanies most massage strokes – blood transport is the focus of this segment.

In Swedish-style massages, effleurage, petrissage, compression, and muscle stripping all share the goal of moving fluids.  Fluids can be defined as blood, lymph, water, or extra-cellular fluid; all forms transport nutrients, bacteria (good and bad), and waste in and out of the body.  Effective transport indicates good health – the cells are healthier and cellular-aging and -death is reduced.

virtualarterialflow110x110

virtual arterial flow (no surrounding cells)

Massage enlivens the theory that moving blood, specifically, toward the heart increases vasodilation (venous circumference) which increases the volume of the vein which means transport of nutrients and waste in the blood will increase.  Movement is life, so moving the fluids is important for the health of the surrounding and affected cells.  Also, moving fluids toward the heart increases waste production, since the kidneys are in line to the return blood flow to the heart – needing to urinate after a bodywork session is a normal and healthy response to the work you just received.

Another aspect of blood circulation that is an important feature of healthy, comfortable, and safe bodywork is the direction of the stroke.  Since veins occur mostly toward the most-surface areas of the body, they are the most directly affected structures during a massage.  Although the direction of energy strokes is dependent on the theory in use, tissue-manipulative strokes are most effectively and safely delivered when applied toward the heart.

The reason for this is that veins have structures inside that prevent backflow of blood and fluid.  The heart is not able to effectively assist the blood return through the veins, just the blood delivery through the arteries, which is strongest at the point of origin – the pumping heart muscle.  In blood return to the heart, the body is designed to assist through contraction of muscle surrounding the veins to move the blood back toward the heart and lungs for recirculation.

Another function of and safety mechanism for preventing the back flow of blood (especially during sedentary states) is the pockets or valves on the interior of the veins.  If pressure is applied in the direction of backflow (against the direction of flow), the structure of the pockets and valves is compromised and the veins stretch and strain under the pressure.  If there is too much stress on the vein in one application or over time, damage can occur to the vein, causing it to weaken or break.  Varicosities can occur or, at worst, bruising of the area where the vein was compromised.

As we get older, the elastin is depleted and not easily replaced in our entire body.  Veins are an important place to have elastin, as they expand and contract based on our environment and state of physical exertion and health.  If undue pressure is applied in the opposite direction of blood flow, permanent damage can be caused by which it becomes more difficult to recover.

massageface01110x110What’s most important is that you feel good during and after your massage.  The old adage “If it feels good, do it” is most applicable when considering the direction of the massage stroke you are receiving.  If it is irritating or annoying, there is a reason it feels that way – talk to your therapist and ask why you may be experiencing that feeling or sensation.  Trust your body to tell you what is good for it – safe, effective massage “feels good.”  The circulatory system plays a major role in how you feel during or after your massage, so make it an important goal, whether it’s to invigorate or relax it, for your overall health and well-being.

In the next article, we’ll talk about another circulatory system that is affected by bodywork and massage – the lymphatic system.  We’ll see how edema, lymph nodes, and the liver, kidneys, and your tonsils all play a part in the physical response and benefits of receiving bodywork!

HIPAA On the Horizon

Client safety and confidentiality the intent of HIPAA – improves alternative health care industry

If you’ve ever thought twice about filling out a health questionnaire that your massage or bodywork practitioner has asked you to complete, you are not alone. It is within the scope of a Practitioner to ask questions about your health in order to provide you with the best service possible – safeguarding your state of health, knowing and practicing the contraindications for you and the bodywork you are receiving, and preventing any complications in providing that service. With rising fraud crimes and use of electronic filing systems, it is a valid concern of the Client and Practitioner that information can be misplaced, mishandled, and miscommunicated.

In 2003, the healthcare industry adopted a government standard for getting and keeping your personal health information for purposes of practicing medicine and filing insurance claims. It is named HIPAA: the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. HIPAA has three major purposes:

  1. To protect and enhance the rights of consumers by providing them access to their health information and controlling the inappropriate use of that information;
  2. To improve the quality of healthcare in the United States by restoring trust in the healthcare system among consumers, healthcare professionals and the multitude of organizations and individuals committed to the delivery of care; and
  3. To improve the efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare delivery by creating a national framework for health privacy protection that builds on efforts by states, health systems, individual organizations and individuals.

Bodyworkers and Clients alike will be satisfied to know that the HIPAA law in place today protects the Protected Health Information (PHI) of the Client in every aspect of the healthcare information-gathering process when insurance claims are filed with companies such as BlueCross and BlueShield.

At this time, compliance is not mandatory for Bodyworkers in the industry of Alternative Healthcare (unless the information is used in an insurance claim situation), but many Information Technology systems are developing in order to accommodate the eventual governmental requirement. If you didn’t know already, currently it is industry-standard to get a written release form from the Client in order for the Practitioner to give or receive health record information from the Client’s doctor.

Look in the near future for your practitioner to have HIPAA information and compliant forms with his or her intake form to assure you that your information is handled with the level of concern and confidentiality it deserves.

How massage can help Diabetes sufferers live better

Diabetes and Massage

We all can appreciate how bodywork, massage particularly, can be a great way to relieve muscle tension, stress, and increase overall well-being.  But did you realize that with regular bodywork sessions, your overall state of physical health can be affected positively?  When dealing with the effects of diabetes, this method of relief can be effective and long-lasting.

Diabetes Mellitus is a group of related disorders that result in hyperglycemia, or elevated blood sugar levels.  Insulin is required to escort the highly-efficient energy source of glucose to the body’s cells where it can be utilized by the cells for energy throughout the body.  Sometimes the pancreas does not put out enough insulin to escort the glucose to the cells or the cells cannot detect the insulin carrying the glucose.  In both cases, the body has to resort to using other sources of energy if it cannot utilize or find the glucose; first, the body uses fats, then proteins, and finally, its own muscle tissue.   These sources of energy are not clean burning, like the glucose, so they leave behind toxins which are largely responsible for the complications related to diabetes.

The toxins that systematically affect the human body deposit and can create plaques and weakened areas of the arteries, called atherosclerosis, especially in the area of the kidneys (renal glands).  If the body can handle a bodywork session (determined in cooperation with a doctor), removal of toxins, edema, and getting nutrients to the cells and arteries of the body can change the physical response a diabetic patient has in everyday life over a period of time.  Tissue that the bodyworker directly affects must be healthy and resilient in order for the work to be done. 

One complication of the toxin build-up and the inefficient cell activity is peripheral neuropathy, or lack of feeling in the extremities.  Affected extremities can include broad areas of the arms, legs, or the tissue and nerves closest to the surface of the skin.  It is important that these areas are massaged or affected energetically in order to stimulate and reactivate the ability of the nerves to sense light, heat, chemical, and pressure – without the ability of the skin to sense, it or whole other areas of the body can be damaged or injured.  Pressure levels are always at the discretion of the recipient of the bodywork, so clients need to communicate with their bodyworker at all times, physically or verbally.

When getting any type of manipulation bodywork, remember:  ulcers on the skin are common in diabetes patients who have lived with the disease for 10 to 20 years or more – these are areas contraindicated for bodywork.  Also, advanced cases of spinal nerve damage, kidney failure, and infected tissue is contraindicated for physical manipulation of the body’s tissues – however, many forms of energetic work, like Reiki and Acupressure, have been effective in assisting the rebalancing of the body’s systems.

Approximately 625,000 new cases are diagnosed every year, and the causes for the disease can range from heredity to dietary habits involving high levels of carbohydrates.  Identifying the symptoms of frequent urination, excessive thirst and hunger, and depression or fatigue, weight loss, nausea, and vomiting are difficult to relate to being diagnosed with diabetes without seeing a medical doctor for blood and other tests.

For more information on diagnosing or the symptoms of diabetes, please contact the American Diabetes Association online:  http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/?loc=GlobalNavDB

For more information on how bodywork can assist a diabetic patient, please contact me for a free consultation.