Massage and Depression

Massage + Depression

Depression can take a real toll on a person's quality of life, interfering with daily activities, relationships and physical health. While there's no one-size-fits-all approach to alleviating these symptoms, some promising research suggests that symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression may be positively affected through massage therapy. 

The Study: Massage for Treatment of Depression in  HIV-infected subjects
A 2013 study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine suggests that massage therapy can  help reduce symptoms of  depression in people with HIV disease.

Study methods: Subjects at least 16 years of age, HIV-seropositive with a diagnosis of major depressive disorder were randomized nonblinded into three parallel groups, one of which received Swedish massage and two control groups that received touch or no intervention for eight weeks. Approximately 40 percent of subjects were currently taking antidepressants, and all were medically stable. Of the 54 that started, 37 completed the study.

Protocol: The Swedish and touch subjects visited the massage therapist for one hour twice per week. For the touch group, a massage therapist simply placed both hands on the subject with slight pressure, in a uniform distribution in the same pattern used for the massage subjects. No massage was given, however.

Results: Outcomes were measured using the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression score, as well as the Beck Depression Inventory, and results indicate that massage signifcantly reduced the severity of depression beginning at week four and continuing to week six when compared to both no intervention and/or touch. Although the study noted the optimal dose of massage still needs to be determined, these results indicate massage therapy can help reduce the symptoms of depression.

Read more about how massage helps with depression in the Summer 2014 issue of mtj »

Massage + Mood

The Study: Effectiveness of Massage Therapy on the Mood of Patients After Open-heart Surgery Research indicates that massage therapy can be an effective intervention to improve a patient's mood after open-heart surgery according to a 2012 article in the Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery.

Study methods and protocol: For this study, 72 patients who underwent coronary bypass surgery were randomly assigned to either a case or control group. Those in the case group received Swedish massage for 20 minutes in four sessions over four consecutive days, three to six days after surgery. The control group received routine care. Subjects answered a Profi le of Mood States questionnaire the day before the start of the study, and again after the last day of the intervention.

Results: A comparison of results showed that massage decreased the overall rating of the patients’ mood after surgery, suggesting that massage can be an effective nursing intervention to improve the mood of patients following open-heart surgery.

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