Believe it or not, sometimes the “holiday season of joy” brings on a surprising sidekick. Stress and depression. It kind of makes sense… there are things to prepare for, shopping (and worries about money), entertaining, travel and many more behaviors that are confined to a very short time period once a year. Holiday depression is more common than you might think. It’s also something that, with a little forethought, you can eliminate or at least control holiday depression.
Depression is a huge public health issue, and treatment ranges from pet therapy to heavy-dose medication. A research report published by the American Journal of Psychiatry indicates that something surprising – therapeutic massage – may help.
While massage can ease stress and tension and may have emotional benefits, studies of the use of massage therapy in depressed patients were lacking.
“Overall, the studies showed that massage therapy had “potentially significant effects” in alleviating symptoms of depression” (American Journal of Psychiatry, March 2010)
To investigate further, researchers searched for randomized controlled trials of massage therapy in depressed patients. They identified 17 studies including 786 people in all. In 13 of the trials, massage therapy was compared to another active treatment such as Chinese herbs, relaxation exercises, or rest, while four compared massage to a “no treatment” control group. The conclusion?
“Massage therapy can have “potentially significant effects in alleviating symptoms of depression.”
There are a number of ways massage can help people with depression: reducing stress and inducing relaxation; building an “alliance” between the therapist and patient; and causing the body to release the “trust hormone” oxytocin.
While massage isn’t the complete answer to alleviating the causes of holiday depression, it goes a long way to helping you deal with the symptoms. Try a relaxing massage today–you’ll have a happier tomorrow, and a better holiday.