There’s no denying that receiving a massage feels great. Working kinks out of achy muscles is probably one of the best feelings in the world. Massage therapy is typically regarded as a luxury spa service, often accompanied by a body wrap and categorized as a spa or beauty service. Of course, the nature of a massage session – a dimly lit room with lovely music in the background – certainly plays in to this theory. And, of course, in a society where we associate taking care of bodies with torturous diets, rigorous workouts, and anxiety inducing doctor visits, it’s hard to imagine that something that feels as good as receiving massage does could actually be beneficial.
But it totally is! The benefits of receiving regular massage reach well beyond feeling good and working out kinks. Last year, through a series of blogs I call the “Body Systems Series,” I explored the benefits massage has for each system of your body. The more research that is done on the benefits of massage therapy, the more health care professionals begin to realize that massage therapy is an amazing form of complementary medicine (never to be confused with alternative medicine). So this year, through a series of blogs, I would like you to join me in the exploration of how massage therapists can work with other medical professionals. This month: psychiatrists!
WHAT DO PSYCHIATRISTS DO?
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in mental health. Primary care physicians refer clients to psychiatrists when a diagnosis for mental health or prescriptions for mental illness needs to be made.
A psychiatrist’s scope of practice includes:
- Perform diagnostic tests for mental disorders
- Diagnosis of mental illness or behavioral disorders
- Prescription of medications to treat psychiatric issues
- Assessment of mental and physical aspects of mental disorders
- Treatment of a variety of mental disorders, including substance abuse
HOW DOES MASSAGE THERAPY COMPLEMENT?
The benefits of massage therapy for the body are well known, but massage therapy also has benefits for the whole body. Some patients are referred to massage therapists to aid in the treatment of mental illnesses.
Benefits of massage therapy on mental health include:
- Reduction of the stress hormone cortisol
- Enhanced secretion of serotonin
- Increased production of the feel-good hormone serotonin
- Provides a safe, comfortable environment
- Allows the client to feel relieved from responsibility
It should be noted that massage therapy is not meant to replace other forms of treatment for any form of mental illness. It is only complementary. You should always follow the advice of your primary care physician.
“What is Psychiatry?” [Internet]. American Psychiatric Association. [Accessed 2017 Mar 4]. Available from: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/what-is-psychiatry