Massage Therapy is not working for Depression

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. I do know that there are some that will argue my findings. In fact, I have had some medical clinics say that massage has worked wonders for their patients when it is used along with weekly meetings with a licensed psychiatrist. Collaborative Health Clinic is one of the offices that has been hailed as one of the best for therapeutic massage and acupuncture. Most patients at this clinic say that the study is wrong because it relaxes their mind along with their body. I guess it comes down to the old saying, to each his own. What works for some does not work for all.

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: