Medications can be very helpful for reducing the symptoms of depression in some people, particularly in cases of moderate to severe depression. Often a combination of psychotherapy and medications is the best course of treatment.
- Major Depression.
- Persistent Depressive Disorder.
- Bipolar Disorder.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
- Psychotic Depression.
- Peripartum (Postpartum) Depression.
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
- ‘Situational’ Depression.
- Abuse. Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse can make you more vulnerable to depression later in life.
- Age. People who are elderly are at higher risk of depression. …
- Certain medications. …
- Conflict. …
- Death or a loss. …
- Gender. …
- Genes. …
- Major events.
Cortisol and the amygdala.
The influx of cortisol triggered by depression also causes the amygdala to enlarge. This is a part of the brain associated with emotional responses. When it becomes larger and more active, it causes sleep disturbances, changes in activity levels, and changes in other hormones.
Cortisol Can Trigger Stem Cells to Malfunction
The “stress hormone” cortisol is believed to create a domino effect that hardwires pathways between the hippocampus and amygdala in a way that might create a vicious cycle by creating a brain that becomes predisposed to be in a constant state of fight-or-flight.
The Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Cortisol System in Depression. The hypothalamic-pituitary-cortisol hypothesis of depression postulates that abnormalities in the cortisol response to stress may underlie depression. In response to stress, which is perceived by the brain cortex and the amygdala and transmitted to the hypothalamus, corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) is released, inducing the anterior pituitary gland to secrete corticotropin into the bloodstream. Corticotropin stimulates the adrenal cortexes to secrete the glucocorticoid hormone cortisol. The red lines show that cortisol, in turn, induces feedback inhibition in the hypothalamus and the pituitary, suppressing the production of CRH and corticotropin, respectively. Findings in patients with depression that support the hypothalamic-pituitary-cortisol hypothesis include the following: cortisol levels are sometimes increased in severe depression, the size of the anterior pituitary and adrenal cortex is increased, and CRH levels in the cerebrospinal fluid and CRH expression in the limbic brain regions are increased. Hippocampal size and the numbers of neurons and glia are decreased, possibly reflecting reduced neurogenesis due to elevated cortisol levels or due to reduced brain-derived neurotrophic factor.
Massage for Depression
Stress is an inevitable part of life. It is almost impossible to take away all the stress and anxiety we may feel on a day-to-day basis. Research suggests that more than 90 percent of illness results from stress alone. Decreasing physical and emotional stress is optimal to improving overall health and well-being.
A 60-minute massage can lower cortisol, a hormone that’s produced in response to stress, by an average of 30 percent. And when cortisol levels decline, serotonin — one of the body’s anti-pain mechanisms — increases by an average of 28 percent after receiving a massage. By lowering cortisol and increasing serotonin, you’re boosting your body’s ability to fight off pain, anxiety and feelings of sadness.
The emotional balance massage provides can be just as vital and valuable as the physical benefits. Massage provides a safe and nurturing place for individuals to relax, refocus and find clarity. It can increase awareness of the mind-body connection. Massage can generate confidence and enhance self-image and self-worth.
Safe nurturing touch helps fulfill the need for human contacts, such as the comforting touch we once received at birth. For some, massage is the only caring touch they may receive. Massage can be considered an hour-long hug, providing you with a nurturing safe place to rest physically and emotionally.
The Benefits of Massage for Depression
- reduced muscle tension.
- improved circulation.
- stimulation of the lymphatic system.
- reduction of stress hormones.
- increased joint mobility and flexibility.
- improved skin tone.
- improved recovery of soft tissue injuries.
- Lower stress. The long-term effects of stress can take emotional and physical tolls. …
- Increase immune function. …
- Boost mental health and wellness. …
- Manage pain. …
- Improve physical fitness.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water before and after your massage. …
- Stretch it out. Following your massage, do a few gentle stretches on your own. …
- Heat therapy. Warm your body up to promote relaxation. …
- Essential oils. …
- Topical treatment. …
- Herbal relief. …
- Rest. …
- Guided meditation.
Not only can massage promote efficient thinking, but it can also improve memory. Tight neck and shoulder muscles often limit the circulation to the brain, which consequently does not support memory or concentration.
When you ask exactly how massage therapy works to benefit people with depression, the most accurate answer is “we don’t yet know.”
But that’s not to say the benefits aren’t real, and some, like Christopher Moyer, Ph.D. and assistant professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin–Stout, posit that massage therapy may work in similar ways as psychotherapy. “The size and effect of massage therapy on trait anxiety and depression is virtually the same as that routinely found in the research studies of psychotherapy for those same conditions,” he explains. “Typically, both take place in a private setting and are based on a ‘50-minute hour’ for the length of the session. Repeated sessions on a weekly schedule—or similar—would be a traditional or common pattern when the goal is long-term reduction of anxiety or depression.”
The other striking similarity is that both are dependent on an interpersonal relationship founded on trust. “Some psychotherapy researchers think that the existence of the trusting relationship—sometimes referred to as the therapeutic bond, or as the working alliance—is the most important component of psychotherapy’s effectiveness,” Moyer says. “And the same may also be true for massage therapy, though this is something that needs to be researched.”
Remember, too, that depression isn’t just mental health issues—some of the symptoms manifest physically, too. “Depression is considered a mental illness, but one feels it in the body as well, a sense of heaviness in the corporeal,” says Alice Sanvito, a massage therapist and owner of Massage-St. Louis in St. Louis, Missouri. “The physical experience of massage can change the physical sensation of heaviness to something lighter and can restore the feeling of living in one’s body again instead of being lost in one’s head.”
Moyer suggests something similar. “It’s tempting to say that yes, psychotherapy ought to have the greater potential to help because it ought to provide the person with skills and insight that reduce anxiety and depression, and that helps the person avoid them in the future,” he explains. “And who is to say that massage therapy doesn’t do something similar to that? It’s possible that receiving massage therapy gives a person a kind of insight, in that it reeducates the person as to how their body and mind ought to feel when they are relaxed, healthy, less anxious and less depressed.”
There’s also the potential that—similar to chronic pain—some of the value of massage therapy for people with depression comes from interrupting the pattern of symptoms on a regular basis. “Each time one interrupts the pattern and experiences calm, it’s easier to remember what it’s like to live in a more normal state, gives one hope that it is possible,” Sanvito suggests.
The problem, however, is defining what regular means. Although research seems to suggest that more than one massage therapy session is more beneficial for people dealing with depression, beyond that, the information available gets fuzzier. “We do not yet have clear information on how many sessions of massage therapy, or in what pattern or frequency, are optimal or necessary,” Moyer explains. “Weekly sessions would be a good place to start. Then, depending on the response to treatment, that schedule could be adjusted as deemed necessary.
Depression and Illegal Drugs
While several types of bodywork can be helpful adjuncts to a cocaine recovery program, the following two stand out:
- Manual Lymphatic Drainage – As part of the natural detoxification process, the lymphatic system cleanses the body’s connective tissue of foreign substances to strengthen immune function. Although cocaine itself is usually metabolized by the body quickly, performing lymphatic drainage massage enhances an addict’s immunity. This immune system advantage eases the body’s transition to functioning without cocaine.
- Swedish Massage – Long, nurturing effleurage strokes can ground a person recovering from cocaine addiction. Because this Swedish massage technique has been shown to slow and calm the central nervous system, it is particularly valuable when a person’s body is trying to readjust to life without cocaine’s stimulatory effects.
Due to this drug’s influence on the body, cocaine addiction is a very dangerous problem. Because of the potential for serious physical and psychological problems being triggered during cocaine withdrawal, bodyworkers are urged to work together with other professionals.
Understanding the physical and psychological problems associated with cocaine abuse and the challenges of withdrawal better prepares bodyworkers to work with this population. Since providing comfort to people who are at their most vulnerable is one of the most satisfying experiences a bodyworker can have, helping cocaine addicts recover is ultimately rewarding.
Omega-3s are a family of essential fatty acids that play important roles in your body and may provide a number of health benefits.
As your body cannot produce them on its own, you must get them from your diet.
The three most important types are ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). ALA is mainly found in plants, while DHA and EPA occur mostly in animal foods and algae.
Common foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish, fish oils, flax seeds, chia seeds, flaxseed oil, and walnuts.
For people who do not eat much of these foods, an omega-3 supplement, such as fish oil or algal oil, is often recommended.
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Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a diagnosis, treatment, or prescription of any kind. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader. These statements are not expressions of legal opinion relative to the scope of practice, medical diagnosis, or medical advice, nor do they represent an endorsement of any product, company, or specific massage therapy technique, modality, or approach. All trademarks, registered trademarks, brand names, registered brand names, logos, and company logos referenced in this post are the property of their owners.