We’ve all had days where we feel sad or blue. Nobody can be happy all the time, and changes in mood, feelings of sadness sometimes, are perfectly normal. For some people, however, these feelings are more persistent and severe, interfering with everyday activities, lowering energy levels and interrupting sleep, for example. A natural method professionals recommend is the power of massage therapy.
Researchers at the University of Miami followed 37 breast cancer patients who received massage therapy or practiced progressive muscle relaxation for five weeks. Women in the massage group reported feeling less depressed and angry, and they had more energy. In a University of South Florida study of high blood pressure patients, those who got 10-minute massages three times a week for three weeks lowered their higher number by 11 points.
A review of more than a dozen massage studies conducted by the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine concludes that massage therapy relieves depression and anxiety by affecting the body’s biochemistry. In a series of studies including about 500 men, women, and children with depression or stress problems, researchers measured the stress hormone cortisol in participants before and immediately after massage and found that the therapy lowered levels by up to 53%. Massage also increased serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters that help reduce depression.