Anxiety experts recommend many different treatments for dealing with the symptoms of anxiety/depression. Some recommend deep breathing and other relaxation strategies. Some recommend gentle yoga. Many will also recommend that those with anxiety receive massage therapy. In this blog post, I will address the benefits of massage, nutrition and naturopathy for anxiety and depression.
We all know that the mind and body are connected. When your body experiences physical stress and tension, your mind is more likely to run through stressful thoughts. Therefore using massage to relieve muscle tension – a common anxiety symptom – can trigger the mind to finally feel more relaxed.
In many clinically depressed/anxious individuals the brain does not produce the level of endorphins required to achieve a sense of happiness or contentment. Massage therapy jump-starts the production of many “happy hormones”, including oxytocin and endorphins, and gives us a sense of calm, as well as simultaneously decreasing cortisol levels. Cortisol is the stress hormone created in fight or flight situations, and increases heart rate, blood pressure, and creates blood sugar imbalances. Many of us constantly run a high level of cortisone which is usually completely unnecessary during our typical day.
Naturopathic Medicine has also been proven to greatly help anxiety and depression. Naturopathic Doctor Caitlin O’Connor, founder of All Families Natural Health in Denver, explains that “naturopathic medicine has many great tools to treat anxiety. Our philosophy is to get to the root of the problem and customize a plan based on individual need. I could see ten different patients with anxiety and each one would get a different plan. The tools we use – herbs, nutrients, homeopathy – are most useful when they are matched specifically to the patient. We also need to primarily address underlying lifestyle issues – sleep, stress etc.”
Dr. O’Connor tends to take an even deeper look into her clients’ psychosomatic states. “The body produces symptoms in order to send a message,” she writes. “So what is the message of that individual’s anxiety? That is my goal as a practitioner – once we figure out the imbalance that the symptom, in this case anxiety, is trying to draw our attention to, we can apply our tools much more effectively.”
A poor diet, which causes damage to your gut, could also be responsible for one’s depression and anxiety. Katherine M. Coleman, a local nutritionist and lifestyle coach, reminds us that “scientific evidence indicates that the epidemic of depression and anxiety is linked to the greater consumption and spread of the Standard American Diet. 95% of your serotonin, a chemical neurotransmitter responsible for your mood, is produced in your gastro-intestinal tract (gut). An estimated 80% of your immunity is produced in your stomach.” Ms. Coleman always educates her nutrition clients on “the important role the ‘Gut-Brain Connection’ has on their physical and mental well-being, and how dietary changes, supplements, and exercise can help improve depression and anxiety recovery.”
Adopting a lifestyle which incorporates frequent massage therapy sessions, good nutrition, and naturopathic balance, (as well as meditative yoga) can lead to more contentment and ease in life. Speak with your psychological healthcare provider first, and then come visit me for a massage, Dr. Caitlin O’Connor for a Naturopathic consultation, or Katherine Coleman for a nutritional evaluation. After your first session, we’ll evaluate how you feel and decide on a regimen that will work best for you.
Dr. Caitlin O’Connor, ND: (720)855-3160
Katherine M. Coleman, MNT: (303)578-2378
Elise Fabricant, LMT: (720)878-1959