Dec 2015 19

Bill & Alison’s stories – massage & managing depression

By: Dave Wheeler

Bill & Alison don’t know each other. They’re both clients of mine, and both come to see me regularly for the same reason – they use sports massage in their routine to help them manage depression.

Now I should be clear up-front. Massage can’t reduce depression. What Alison and Bill do is use exercise to help manage their depression, and sports massage to help them keep up their exercise regime.

I’ve blogged before about the effect that massage can have in helping to reduce stress. And it’s true that massage therapy can release both serotonin (the brain’s “happy drug”) and dopamine (the brain’s “motivation” drug) but the effects are short lived and don’t impact on the black-dog that is depression.


Bill’s story – maximum endorphin release

Bill has been on anti-depressant medication (SSRI’s) for 15 years, and in consultation with his GP is currently on a schedule to reduce and then quit his tablets.

Because Bill has been on medication for so long, it’s a long process to come off, and he needs to make sure that he takes care of his mental health.

To keep himself level-headed, Bill heads to the gym 3 times a week for a “workout-max”. He really pushes himself, using free-weights to exercise to exhaustion to maximise the endorphin release.

Because Bill pushes himself to the limit, he’s in danger of going too far and injuring his muscles. So to make sure that he doesn’t miss the endorphin release that he needs, he has a regular sports massage to keep his body in shape for the beasting he gives it.


Alison’s story – keeping on running

Alison’s story is similar to Bill’s, though a little less extreme. Whilst she’s not on SSRI’s, she needs regular exercise to “stay sane” (in her words).

Alison’s choice of  exercise is running, and she runs 4 times a week. She finds that, as well as getting the “buzz” of endorphins afterwards, running helps clear her head and keep her balanced.

Like a lot of runners, Alison’s in danger of getting really tight calves, and so she has a monthly sports massage to keep her calves flexible, so that she can keep on running.


If you need regular sports or deep tissue massage to keep you going, do give me a call.