by Tina Allen, LMT, CPMMT, CPMT, CIMT
Updated July 2013
Neurotransmitters are responsible for the feelings we experience, such as happiness, sadness, anxiety and fear.
Though researchers are not yet sure exactly how neurotransmitters affect our feelings, clinical studies show that proper balance of neurotransmitters is critical to overall emotional well being. Neurotransmitters are molecules that carry signals between nerve cells in the brain called neurons. Simply put, they are signaling mechanisms that tell our brains how to respond to certain stimuli, which may include our own internal thought patterns or circumstances in the environment around us. When we respond to situations around us, neurotransmitters are the catalyst for those responses. Essentially, neurotransmitters are responsible for the feelings we experience, such as happiness, sadness, anxiety and fear.
The cause of Bipolar disorder is not yet fully understood
Emotional disorders like anxiety, depression and ADHD have all been linked to chemical imbalance of specific neurotransmitters. Although we know the cause of Bipolar disorder is not yet fully understood, the neurotransmitters that regulate mood, such as serotonin, seem to be out of balance and brain functioning differs in individuals with the disorder.
Neurotransmitter imbalances have been linked to lack of focus, poor concentration, hyperactivity, and irregular sleep patterns. Neurotransmitters like norepinephrine, epinephrine, dopamine and serotonin are increased through the use of massage therapy.
Massage may very well provide much needed relaxation and stress reduction to those with bipolar disorder
Massage Therapy may work as a method of treating bipolar disorder by promoting relaxation, creating body awareness and decreasing anxiety which can assist in appropriate and restful sleep. Massage also appears to help relieve sensory defensiveness associated with bipolar disorder.
Personally, I have worked with children with varying levels of mental and physical impairment. In these cases massage has been very beneficial in providing decreased stress, anxiety, increased positive neurotransmitters and hormone release. Research has documented how massage therapy may increase the production of Oxytocin (nurturing/feel good hormone) while in turn decreasing levels of Cortisol (stress hormone). Knowing that stress contributes to illness and disorders, massage may very well provide much needed relaxation and stress reduction.
Pediatric Cancer Patients Experience Reduced Pain after Massage Therapy.
Sleep disturbance is common during times of depression for those experiencing mood disorders. Massage therapy has been shown to decrease the length of time it takes to fall asleep as well as induce deeper and longer periods of sleep.
In addition to massage therapy, there are many alternative methods employed to raise neurotransmitter levels. Some of these other natural methods include acupuncture, hypnosis, reflexology, meditation, yoga, diet and herbal remedies. Tibetan monks participated in having their levels of neurotransmitters measured which showed increased levels of serotonin. It is this type of scientific data that supports the use of massage therapy and other natural methods in the proper healthcare for children.
Massage may be a supportive therapy that can be readily applied, most effectively by specially trained massage therapists or by parents who have learned massage techniques from a skilled, educated massage therapist. Pediatric massage and nurturing touch are the most appropriate massage techniques to use in this population. When using massage therapy for children with cancer, your work does not need to be aggressive to achieve its maximum potential.
For more information visit Comprehensive Pediatric Massage Training Course (CPMT)
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