When you hear the term “addiction”, you might think of drugs, extreme sports participation, Fanatics of sports teams, alcohol, pharmaceuticals, egocentric disorders (narcissism, etc), or stalking behaviors. Chemical imbalances attribute a large portion of the root of mental diseases that Western medicine defines and sometimes it is a simple pattern of choices that our brain makes that determine, over time, our inability to change or our trained capacity to be “successful” based on these repeated, and very often destructive behaviors.

A Little About Mental Health

Our overall longevity, health, and quality of life depends largely on a few factors: getting shelter, food, social interaction, and security – the last being the highest level of cognitive health…and I think, also the highest level of existence. When humans do not experience long-lasting, healthy, and quality security, it affects their perception of the world – the other three – which ALL have a physical impact on the body.
Depression is one of the most inaccurately and inadvertently diagnosed dis-eases in modern times. This does not assume that depression or any other form of mental distress are any less important or don’t have as much an impact on a human’s health than an acute or chronic injury, viral or bacterial infection, or sources of imbalance received into the body from an outside source. Because of the power of the patient to manage, or rather “mismanage” as medical diagnosis seems to imply, depression is also one of the most difficult psychological disorders with physical manifestations to “cure”. Maintenance of lower levels of depression are what many humans are challenged with and achieved on a daily basis – some examples of daily rituals that humans use to maintain good mental health might include religion, motivational reading or listening, and expression of gratitude, and all the practices & rules therein.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Who says. In 1949, Congress passed a Bill recognizing May as Mental Health Awareness Month in the U.S. in a effort to raise public awareness and discourse about the existence, role, and maintenance options for mental illness in society. Today, the World Health Organization and the National Institute of Mental Health concur: approximately 1 in 4 adults develop, at some point, degree, or length of time, a mental disorder.
What does it mean. In the world of health care options, there are a rapidly growing number of methods that have been noted as successful. As it is with “fixing” things, not every person responds the same way to a method and not every method works for everyone. The discourse and repeated awareness is to engage the public in the current options, successes, and reasons for addressing mental health as an important part of quality life – for the person and those people surrounding them.
Why it’s important. Our attitude and ability to rebound from events that affect us physically and mentally are the two most important qualities to be aware of when finding non-pharmaceutical or alternative methods of healing. A healthy ego, self-esteem, and perception of the big picture are just a few ways that people get from depression that is moderately imbalanced to depression that is at-risk of existing in a void, beyond help from outside sources.

How Massage Therapy Affects Mental Health

Massage therapy can help a person overcome or recover from physical & mental addictions or conditions that are supported by physical imbalances (hormonal, pain management, restricted range of motion, etc) and feed depression or various other psychological elements to your health. It has been used and recommended by medical doctors to alleviate mental stress for patients and recommended by massage therapy professionals in the field by the nature of the physical effects that correlate improved physical function with improved mental faculty.
Anyone can search the internet to find articles, blogs, stories, anecdotes, and research to support the use of massage therapy to better or enhance the quality of life for those addressing their mental or psychological imbalances, but there are a few places that I recommend you search and decide for yourself.

For quantified results (before:after, test pilots, research studies):
• National Institute of Health’s PUBMed: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=massage%20therapy
• International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork’s database: http://www.ijtmb.org/index.php/ijtmb
• Massage Therapy Foundation’s Research Database: http://www.massagetherapyfoundation.org/protected/rd_search.aspx

For anecdotal results (what works for me, industry statements, experienced practitioner reports):
• MASSAGE Magazine, first of many articles: http://www.massagemag.com/News/massage-news.php?id=10056
• LiveStrong.com: http://www.livestrong.com/article/40315-mental-benefits-massage/
• HelpGuide.org (with some self-massage techniques): http://helpguide.org/mental/stress_relief_meditation_yoga_relaxation.htm
• Yahoo!Answers (UK & Ireland): http://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100822231046AAL5tub
• an AMTA Position Statement, RE: wellness program: http://www.amtamassage.org/statement3.html
• ABMP’s MassageTherapy.com (“Traumatized Bodies, Restorative Touch”, and more): http://www.massagetherapy.com/articles/index.php/article_id/1175/Traumat...

In 2002, Cathy Wong at About.com published an article called What Do Physicians Think About Alternative Medicine? Amazing results of a 276-Colorado-Physican pool (published originally in the Archives of Internal Medicine): 48% of the 276 MDs recommend Massage Therapy to their patients AND 60% of the MDs wanted to learn more about alternative medicine/therapies.
Massage therapy can be a method of release of muscle memories resulting in (possibly) either physical or emotional discomfort or trauma but definitely reprogramming – the intent of the work is to balance the chemical, virtual, real, and spiritual body and the methods used to achieve balance are some of the most diverse and effective known to humans – from touch therapy (bodywork) to medical massage (soft tissue manipulation).
Be careful: getting regular massage may seem or actually be addictive – the endorphins that are naturally produced from an activity such as exercise, good food, and good social interaction are also produced during a massage session in your favorite place or using your favorite massage modality. But this kind of addiction can be managed in a way that makes it a moderate form of healthy healing time for your mind, body, and soul.

More info about mental health: National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Mental Health America (MHA)

Author's Bio: 

David J Otto, LMT NCTMB, BA was certified as a Professional Massage Therapist at the Utah College of Massage Therapy (UCMT), Nevada Campus (Las Vegas) in 2001. In the 11 years since: David has worked as a licensed massage therapist with the Ritz-Carlton for 9 years in Henderson, NV. Since 2003, he: continues his massage practice, Hands In Motion (Henderson/Las Vegas, NV); has instructed over 450 massage therapy students at UCMT, Nevada campus, regarding their professional development and other massage modalities over 3 years; in 2004, attended TMC School (Chiangmai, Thailand) for a 90-hour Traditional Thai Massage certification course; began working with Drift Spa at Palms Place (Las Vegas, NV) in 2008, as a massage therapist. Overall, David has performed over 7,000 massage therapy sessions.
In 2009, David co-founded the Nevada nonprofit organization MWR Project Inc, to benefit and promote research for a cure for breast cancer through “the BIGGEST massage ever”. He has been serving the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) Nevada Chapter for 6 years, currently as 1st Vice-President & Webmaster. David also co-organizes the Las Vegas Massage Therapy Meetup networking group of over 600 members since 2007.