Did you know, that getting a massage even if not on a regular basis but just once in a while can vastly improve your mood?  Just getting a massage can help improve your anxiety and depression.  

    Let me just preface this by saying, you should still work with your primary care physician and follow their guidelines as well. Let your doctor know you are getting massage treatments and let them know if it is helping or not. I am not saying to only get a massage to "cure" your anxiety and depression as I am NOT  a doctor. I am a licensed massage therapist (LMT). I can not give medical advice. I can however let you know that studies have shown that there is a link between getting a massage and it helping improve the symptoms of anxiety and depression and I would like to share that with you now.

     Here is a picture taken from the Mayo Clinic. It shows what the brain looks like when depressed and how it looks when a person is happy. 
    One common cause of many causes for depression/anxiety is a dopamine deficiency in the brain. Dopamine is a hormone that is released in the brain through neurotransmitters. It's the "feel good" chemical of the body and is often associated with the "reward system" of the brain. 

     Dopamine is responsible for making us feel proactive and motivated and to look back fondly on our accomplishments. However when our dopamine levels are low, you can feel tired, slow, unmotivated, lethargic, depressed, anxious, an unwillingness to get up and go, loss of interest in things that usually you like to do. You may find yourself having a hard time sleeping, or sleeping too much, having a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, and an overall decrease in your physical activity. Even trying to think, or do mental tasks become difficult and you may find your self in a kind of "fog" or feel like you have "lazy brain". 

        I mentioned depression and how a lack of dopamine can be a cause of that. With a deficiency of dopamine you can feel run down, sad, hopeless, even feeling no strong feelings one way or another just a general un caring of everything. You may have a few "good" days and then one day your mood drops and you may feel more depressed even have thoughts of suicide and utter hopelessness. It can be hard to think of the future as anything but just grey and pointless and may feel guilty about all the feelings you are having. Just trying to live day by day, one day at a time. Just trying to survive.

        There are many things that can lead to a dopamine deficiency, such as: stress, malnutrition, substance abuse, low thyroid, adrenal functions,& genetic factors just to name a few.

         There are ways to help increase your dopamine production naturally:
  •  Exercising for up to 30 minutes a day.  
  •  A banana a day can also help, it produces dopamine quinine which is a naturally occurring form of dopamine.
  • Reduce your intake of sweets, saturated fats and caffeine. 
  • Add raw almonds and sunflower seeds to your diet
  • Supplements are available, however always consult your primary care physician before taking anything new.
  • Touch, such as hugs, and of course massage.
          Studies have shown that something as simple as human contact can help boost your dopamine levels. Getting a massage once or twice a week, or even once a month if you have a budget to uphold, can greatly improve your mood. 

       Dopamine is a feel good hormone, so when you are getting a massage and you have the sensation of human contact, your body starts to relax and produce more dopamine. When you get up from the massage table you will feel happier. The effect of the boosted level of dopamine can last for hours sometimes days. You'll crave more. 

       Did you know that the reason drugs like cocaine are so addictive is because it triggers your dopamine production and kicks it into high gear. Once those people start doing it and become addicted to that feeling the body becomes "numb" to the feeling and loses the effect and that's why over time those people need more and more and in many cases become so addicted they overdose and die. This is very clearly NOT the right way to go about boosting your dopamine levels. 

      Taking care of yourself, by changing your diet, exercising, getting a massage now and again and keeping up with your doctor are all healthy, and natural ways to help you feel better. 

       If you are depressed, have the winter blues or are just feeling stressed out and need to relax, get a massage and then when the massage is over think of your mood, how you are feeling and just see if you feel a bit better. 

       There are people out there who want to help, and I am one of them. I want to help people feel better, just know you are not alone in the world, and massage is an affordable way to help make you feel like you again.