Massage Therapy is not working for Depression

Dr Shock
August 7, 2008

Massage Therapy

Patients should be informed that the only systematic and critical appraisal of RCTs demonstrates that there is currently no robust evidence to recommend a course of MT to alleviate symptoms of depression.

This is the conclusion from a systematic review evaluating the evidence, from randomised clinical trials (RCTs), for the effectiveness of multiple sessions of classical European (Swedish) MT for the treatment of depression.

What is massage therapy?
Difficult to find out. It is hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. I found some information on taking care of your health. On another site a Dutch man was held responsible for inventing massage therapy.

Apparently patients with a depressive disorder use a complementary or alternative therapy (CAT) to treat their symptoms of depression.

Surveys indicate that 53.6% of those with ‘severe depression’ (4) and 22.4% of those with major depression (5) have used CAT to treat their symptoms in the preceding 12 months.

Massage therapy is one of them recently gaining popularity.

Amongst those with ‘severe depression’, 2.1% use MT to treat their symptoms. The use of MT declined in the early 20th century (at the time of the pharmaceutical revolution), but its popularity has been regained, with consumers spending increasing amounts on this treatment

Of the 33 retrieved articles only four were true randomised controlled trials and could be included in this systematic review. Even three trials didn’t report enough proper data to evaluate the outcome. The fourth article compared massage therapy to acupuncture.
So no good evidence to proof that massage therapy is of benefit for depressed patients.

This is in contrast with two earlier systematic reviews but these two but did not critically appraise, the available data for each therapy, they merely summarized it.

So save yourself some money and try out some more evidence based forms of therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy or even antidepressants. You can even take some control over your health when possible by using running therapy or exercising and light therapy.

ResearchBlogging.org
H. F. Coelho, K. Boddy, E. Ernst (2008). Massage therapy for the treatment of depression: a systematic review InternationalJournal of Clinical Practice, 62 (2), 325-333 DOI:

 

4 Responses to “Massage Therapy is not working for Depression”

  1. I regularily see a Massage Therapist when my anxiety and depression symptoms cycle into becoming “physical”, (difficulty breathing, extreme tense feelings in my upper back and shoulders, “holding” my breathe due to stress and anxiety attacks, etc).

    It may be the massage therapist I go to. I have seen him for years. He is so easy to be with, and knows all about my struggles with depression and anxiety. He fully accepts me, so I am able to relax and enjoy the interaction. The massage seems to alleviate much of my stress for the short term. Also, it just feels good. You can’t beat that;>)

  2. aqua on August 7th, 2008 at 5:32 pm
  3. Don’t let this post stop you from enjoying a good massage;)
    Regards Dr Shock

  4. Dr Shock on August 7th, 2008 at 8:42 pm
  5. Hello Dr Shock
    I find your title for this blog post highly inaccurate.
    After reading the systematic review I failed to find a single reference that validates to your assumption that massage therapy does not work for depression.
    What this paper points out is that the evidence for efficacy is weak and more research needs to be done, to understand the effects massage has on depression if there are any.

  6. Bodhi Haraldsson on January 21st, 2009 at 12:39 am
  7. I find it curiously hypocritical that “evidence-based medicine” has grown to become a sort of god to worship. I have spoken with the “father” of EBM, Dr. Kerr White, in 1999. He is the doctor whose student was Archie Cochrane of the famed Cochrane Collaboration. It was Dr. White’s view that today, as when EBM began in the mid-1960s, 85% of what conventional medicine does is of unknown safety or efficacy. Said otherwise, only 10-15% of all medical interventions have been proven to do more good than harm. Yet, MDs and now the public have come to somehow worship a field that is 85% unproven as to whether it causes more good than harm. In 1999, over 99,000 people in the US died from CORRECTLY applied medical procedures. The safety record of medicine is appalling! The effectiveness is relatively uncertain and side effects serious to the point where medicine-caused deaths are becoming a major killer ranking with diseases like AIDS in numbers. So, I am NOT impressed with “evidence-based medicine”, although I cheer the attempt. When it comes to conventional medicine evaluating alternatives, such as massage therapy, I yawn. The fact of the matter is that most medical graduates in Canada (and, I assume, in the US) are NOT qualified to evaluate research of either conventional or alternative sorts. How do I know? The Dean of the Medical School of the University of British Columbia told me this in an interview. That means doctors who presume to evaluate research–whether or not about massage therapy–simply do not have the requisite training to do so. It requires a PhD in research to do that. The public needs to be aware of these realities.

  8. Healthwatcher on January 15th, 2011 at 11:32 pm
  1. I regularily see a Massage Therapist when my anxiety and depression symptoms cycle into becoming “physical”, (difficulty breathing, extreme tense feelings in my upper back and shoulders, “holding” my breathe due to stress and anxiety attacks, etc).

    It may be the massage therapist I go to. I have seen him for years. He is so easy to be with, and knows all about my struggles with depression and anxiety. He fully accepts me, so I am able to relax and enjoy the interaction. The massage seems to alleviate much of my stress for the short term. Also, it just feels good. You can’t beat that;>)

  2. aqua on August 7th, 2008 at 5:32 pm
  3. Don’t let this post stop you from enjoying a good massage;)
    Regards Dr Shock

  4. Dr Shock on August 7th, 2008 at 8:42 pm
  5. Hello Dr Shock
    I find your title for this blog post highly inaccurate.
    After reading the systematic review I failed to find a single reference that validates to your assumption that massage therapy does not work for depression.
    What this paper points out is that the evidence for efficacy is weak and more research needs to be done, to understand the effects massage has on depression if there are any.

  6. Bodhi Haraldsson on January 21st, 2009 at 12:39 am
  7. I find it curiously hypocritical that “evidence-based medicine” has grown to become a sort of god to worship. I have spoken with the “father” of EBM, Dr. Kerr White, in 1999. He is the doctor whose student was Archie Cochrane of the famed Cochrane Collaboration. It was Dr. White’s view that today, as when EBM began in the mid-1960s, 85% of what conventional medicine does is of unknown safety or efficacy. Said otherwise, only 10-15% of all medical interventions have been proven to do more good than harm. Yet, MDs and now the public have come to somehow worship a field that is 85% unproven as to whether it causes more good than harm. In 1999, over 99,000 people in the US died from CORRECTLY applied medical procedures. The safety record of medicine is appalling! The effectiveness is relatively uncertain and side effects serious to the point where medicine-caused deaths are becoming a major killer ranking with diseases like AIDS in numbers. So, I am NOT impressed with “evidence-based medicine”, although I cheer the attempt. When it comes to conventional medicine evaluating alternatives, such as massage therapy, I yawn. The fact of the matter is that most medical graduates in Canada (and, I assume, in the US) are NOT qualified to evaluate research of either conventional or alternative sorts. How do I know? The Dean of the Medical School of the University of British Columbia told me this in an interview. That means doctors who presume to evaluate research–whether or not about massage therapy–simply do not have the requisite training to do so. It requires a PhD in research to do that. The public needs to be aware of these realities.

  8. Healthwatcher on January 15th, 2011 at 11:32 pm
  1. I regularily see a Massage Therapist when my anxiety and depression symptoms cycle into becoming “physical”, (difficulty breathing, extreme tense feelings in my upper back and shoulders, “holding” my breathe due to stress and anxiety attacks, etc).

    It may be the massage therapist I go to. I have seen him for years. He is so easy to be with, and knows all about my struggles with depression and anxiety. He fully accepts me, so I am able to relax and enjoy the interaction. The massage seems to alleviate much of my stress for the short term. Also, it just feels good. You can’t beat that;>)

  2. aqua on August 7th, 2008 at 5:32 pm
  3. Don’t let this post stop you from enjoying a good massage;)
    Regards Dr Shock

  4. Dr Shock on August 7th, 2008 at 8:42 pm
  5. Hello Dr Shock
    I find your title for this blog post highly inaccurate.
    After reading the systematic review I failed to find a single reference that validates to your assumption that massage therapy does not work for depression.
    What this paper points out is that the evidence for efficacy is weak and more research needs to be done, to understand the effects massage has on depression if there are any.

  6. Bodhi Haraldsson on January 21st, 2009 at 12:39 am
  7. I find it curiously hypocritical that “evidence-based medicine” has grown to become a sort of god to worship. I have spoken with the “father” of EBM, Dr. Kerr White, in 1999. He is the doctor whose student was Archie Cochrane of the famed Cochrane Collaboration. It was Dr. White’s view that today, as when EBM began in the mid-1960s, 85% of what conventional medicine does is of unknown safety or efficacy. Said otherwise, only 10-15% of all medical interventions have been proven to do more good than harm. Yet, MDs and now the public have come to somehow worship a field that is 85% unproven as to whether it causes more good than harm. In 1999, over 99,000 people in the US died from CORRECTLY applied medical procedures. The safety record of medicine is appalling! The effectiveness is relatively uncertain and side effects serious to the point where medicine-caused deaths are becoming a major killer ranking with diseases like AIDS in numbers. So, I am NOT impressed with “evidence-based medicine”, although I cheer the attempt. When it comes to conventional medicine evaluating alternatives, such as massage therapy, I yawn. The fact of the matter is that most medical graduates in Canada (and, I assume, in the US) are NOT qualified to evaluate research of either conventional or alternative sorts. How do I know? The Dean of the Medical School of the University of British Columbia told me this in an interview. That means doctors who presume to evaluate research–whether or not about massage therapy–simply do not have the requisite training to do so. It requires a PhD in research to do that. The public needs to be aware of these realities.

  8. Healthwatcher on January 15th, 2011 at 11:32 pm
  1. I regularily see a Massage Therapist when my anxiety and depression symptoms cycle into becoming “physical”, (difficulty breathing, extreme tense feelings in my upper back and shoulders, “holding” my breathe due to stress and anxiety attacks, etc).

    It may be the massage therapist I go to. I have seen him for years. He is so easy to be with, and knows all about my struggles with depression and anxiety. He fully accepts me, so I am able to relax and enjoy the interaction. The massage seems to alleviate much of my stress for the short term. Also, it just feels good. You can’t beat that;>)

  2. aqua on August 7th, 2008 at 5:32 pm
  3. Don’t let this post stop you from enjoying a good massage;)
    Regards Dr Shock

  4. Dr Shock on August 7th, 2008 at 8:42 pm
  5. Hello Dr Shock
    I find your title for this blog post highly inaccurate.
    After reading the systematic review I failed to find a single reference that validates to your assumption that massage therapy does not work for depression.
    What this paper points out is that the evidence for efficacy is weak and more research needs to be done, to understand the effects massage has on depression if there are any.

  6. Bodhi Haraldsson on January 21st, 2009 at 12:39 am
  7. I find it curiously hypocritical that “evidence-based medicine” has grown to become a sort of god to worship. I have spoken with the “father” of EBM, Dr. Kerr White, in 1999. He is the doctor whose student was Archie Cochrane of the famed Cochrane Collaboration. It was Dr. White’s view that today, as when EBM began in the mid-1960s, 85% of what conventional medicine does is of unknown safety or efficacy. Said otherwise, only 10-15% of all medical interventions have been proven to do more good than harm. Yet, MDs and now the public have come to somehow worship a field that is 85% unproven as to whether it causes more good than harm. In 1999, over 99,000 people in the US died from CORRECTLY applied medical procedures. The safety record of medicine is appalling! The effectiveness is relatively uncertain and side effects serious to the point where medicine-caused deaths are becoming a major killer ranking with diseases like AIDS in numbers. So, I am NOT impressed with “evidence-based medicine”, although I cheer the attempt. When it comes to conventional medicine evaluating alternatives, such as massage therapy, I yawn. The fact of the matter is that most medical graduates in Canada (and, I assume, in the US) are NOT qualified to evaluate research of either conventional or alternative sorts. How do I know? The Dean of the Medical School of the University of British Columbia told me this in an interview. That means doctors who presume to evaluate research–whether or not about massage therapy–simply do not have the requisite training to do so. It requires a PhD in research to do that. The public needs to be aware of these realities.

  8. Healthwatcher on January 15th, 2011 at 11:32 pm

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