Integrated Massage

ImageI’ve been trying to figure out how to go about explaining integrated massage.  I would have to say that I do more integrated massage, than any other form of massage.  

I love analogies.  I love them because they take a concept that may not be currently understood, and puts them in a form more easily understood. 

When someone walks into a massage session and states “I need a massage”.  As a massage therapist (MT), I ask questions to find out what is going on with her: 

  •  where is she hurting or uncomfortable
  •  when did the pain or discomfort start
  •  what else might be going on – emotionally, sports, illness, injuries

I don’t ask these questions to be nosy, although I’m very interested in my clients, but I ask these questions, because simply requesting “I need a massage” is like walking into a restaurant, and simply saying “I’d like some food” with no further instruction to your server or counter person. 

Knowing what my client is experiencing guides me to what I need to do to help facilitate recovery or improved health in a myriad of areas. 

  • Am I assisting with a sports related injury?
  • Am I assisting in improving flexibility or blood flow? 
  • Am I helping someone finally relax? 
  • Am I releasing trigger points to release pain?
  • Am I working on fascial restrictions? 

ImageI’m a certified massage therapist.  This means I’ve been trained extensively in various modalities, I know how the bones, ligaments and muscles, nerves and systems of the body are connected and what each does.  I teach massage… so I have to be VERY confident in how everything connects and works.  Additionally, as a massage therapist, with a passion for helping others heal, I take classes to learn other techniques.

  •  I read books. 
  • I read articles. 
  • I talk to other practitioners of massage as well as other forms of healing.

 I don’t mean to sound like I’m bragging on myself, far from it, but I work diligently to be able to provide to YOU as my client the best, most beneficial experience possible in the short amount of time we spend together. 

What’s all of this got to do with integrated massage? 

Great question!  Integrated massage is like a chef that has been trained in various methods taking a touch of French cuisine, a dash of the Far East, a pinch of the Caribbean and combining it all to make a meal that is a one of a kind experience.

 ImageSometimes, we are REALLY craving a great deli sandwich, and then we go to a food court that has 15 different restaurants and, all of sudden you realize you really want ALL KINDS of flavors.  That’s kind of what integrated massage is like. 

What are YOUR needs?  Do you need to have muscles and joints put back into place from overuse or even some kind of chronic illness?  It may sound funny to lump both in the same question, but it makes sense after looking at it. 

If you have over exerted or moved wrong, you may have a pinched nerve or a muscle that really screams at you when you move in a certain way.  You may need to have that muscle manipulated in a certain way to release it. 

You may have some kind of chronic inflammatory illness that causes your muscles to cramp up, or restricts how some of your systems work… you may need a little deep tissue massage to help your muscle give up the tension, and a more gentle method to help with moving fluids through your system.  You might need me to focus on applying pressure to the fascial system. 

The long and short of integrated massage is taking a little of everything I’ve been trained in, and making it into an experience to help you heal physically, mentally, and spiritually. 

It’s my passion to assist as many as I can with healing, and Integrated Massage allows me to do that through a wide variety of methodologies.  The integrated massage spectrum is pretty broad, and we could go on and on, so in later articles, I will focus on techniques that I use within my integrated massage. 

Please feel free to give me a call (317-623-8868), or shoot me an email to discuss if integrated massage is what you need. 

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I’d Love to Share a Little About Massage…

In the past several articles I’ve really emphasized the spiritual and / or energy side of the work I do.  I love energy work and the results I see with it.  I love teaching others how to perform energy work.  I love the fact that we in the West are finally beginning to open up to energy work… but I’ve come to realize that I’ve  been a bit negligent in discussing the hands on healing methods that I have been trained in and how they can benefit you.

Integrated MassageMassage is a wonderful addition to regular healthcare whether preventative or rehabilitative.  Most of you reading this know what massage is.  I’m hoping to give a little insight to what I do with massage therapy, and as a client help you make better, more informed decisions on what exactly you want and or need done when you visit your massage therapist.  If you’ve never had a massage for one reason or another…  not knowing what to expect, not knowing what to ask for, not knowing the different modalities available,  cost, not sure how to find a qualified Massage Therapist… whatever the reason, I’m hoping I can clear some of that up in the next several weeks and give you some insight.
With that being said, let’s look VERY BRIEFLY into the different modalities that I am trained:

1.   Integrated Massage:  Our bodies are made of muscles, nerves, tendons,, systems, organs, bones… we don’t have time for a basic physiology or anatomy lesson here, but long and short of it, we’re far more than just muscles and bones.  With Integrated Massage, we look at the person as a whole – physically, spiritually, and emotionally – and customize the experience of the massage specifically to the clients’ needs.  We take everything we’ve learned and combine it in a way to best suit the clients’ needs.

Sounds pretty broad-based, doesn’t it?  It is.  With Integrated Massage, one technique isn’t used specifically.  We take everything we’ve learned and combine it in a way to best suit the clients’ needs.
There may be a need for deep tissue massage to ease sore or strained muscles.  There may be a need to work the Fascia to ease the tension in the soft tissues, there may be a need to have your massage therapist perform trigger point release to ease a muscle that has clenched up from overuse or downright abuse after a long run or walk… the possibilities are endless.  You may simply need to be pampered to help relieve some stress …
MassageWhat are the SPECIFIC techniques of Integrated Massage?  That’s for another article (sneaky, huh?).

What are the benefits of Integrated Massage?  Before I answer that, let me say this… Massage therapy should be used in combination with your regular medical and or psychological care.  At no point am I advocating no longer visiting your healthcare professional.  With that being said…

    • Assisting with rehabilitation after accidents or sports related injuries.
    • Healing and assisting with pain management associated with chronic illnesses
    • Complimentary therapy for Arthritis or other inflammatory disorders
    • Assists in boosting the immune system to aid in immune system issues
    • Assists in lowering blood pressure
    • Assists in the treatment of depression
    • Assists in relaxation from stressful professions
    • Increases the flow of oxygen and blood which improves joint flexibility.
    • Massage just feels good and increases the production of endorphins which is the body’s natural pain-killer.

2.  Hot Stone Massage:   So often, when I see advertisements for health spas, I see images of clients
Hot Stonelying face down on the massage table with stones lined up along their spines.  What in the world is a hot stone massage?  How is having rocks laid on ones spine beneficial?

Hot stone massage takes basic massage techniques – long fluid strokes with deep pressure and incorporates the use of smooth river rocks heated to 120 and 150 degrees to assist in relaxing the muscles and increasing blood circulation.  While one part of the body is being worked on, another part may simply have a hot stone lying on it to loosen the muscle until the practitioner works her way up to work on that set of muscles.  The stones may be used as a tool to work deeper into more tensed up areas that just need a little more persuasion to relax.  Again, it depends on what you as the client needs.

Just for clarification… 120 – 150 degrees sounds pretty warm, huh?  Well, it is.  For this reason, at no point are the stones laid directly onto the flesh.  There is always a protective surface between you and the stones–typically a towel.

The benefits of hot stone massage include:

    •  Stimulation of the lymph nodes to assist in moving waste.
    •  Stimulation of the immune system
    •  Increased relaxation of muscles and soft tissues
    •  Pain reduction
    •  Promote calmness

3.  Lomi-Lomi:    This is a two hour voyage to heaven on earth for both the practitioner and the client.  Lomi-LomiLomiLomi is a Polynesian form of massage taught by the master healers of Hawaii.  Lomi-Lomi is also known as “Loving Hands” massage.  With Lomi-Lomi we strive to bring harmony to the client through the use of gentle, long flowing strokes and gentle stretches.   It is said that some people describe Lomi-Lomi as rhythmic waves of the Pacific Ocean moving over the body washing away the stresses of the day, week, month…

4.  Chair Massage is exactly what it sounds like.  It truly is possible to get a great massage while sitting in a chair designed to hold the client in a supporting comfortable manner for the MT to work away pains and strains.

The client sits fully clothed with his or her face cradled and his or her back is to the therapist, and the shoulders, back and lower back are worked.  The biggest advantage to chair massage over other forms of massage is convenience.

    •  Chair massage can be performed practically anywhere.
    • Chair massage can be incredibly effective in as little as 10 minutes.
    • Chair massage is GREAT release for high stress jobs that need quick releases to regroup.

5.  Myofascial Release:  fascia is a layer of fibrous connective tissue that surrounds muscles, groups of muscles, blood vessels and nerves (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascia).  As with muscles, there are different types of fascia, and each type of fascia performs a specific job.  Sometimes, the fascia gets overworked or strained.  When this happens, there can be pain ranging from mild to severe… that is where Myofascial release is advantageous.

Muscles

Myofascial release is actually the gentle stretching of the effected fascia.  Myofascial release is used in conjunction with other forms of massage because it is not, in and of itself, a massage technique.
Myofascial release is incredibly beneficial to those suffering from headaches, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Plantar Fasciitis, TMJ, and Whiplash and on and on… so many injuries can have the healing process sped up through gentle manipulation and stretching which is what this technique is specifically designed to do.

There are an incredible number of techniques for massage therapy.  In order for me, or whoever you choose to be your Massage Therapist, to perform our best for your benefit, we have to have absolute honesty.

If one technique is too strong, or not strong enough, if you are uncomfortable or at all curious about anything your MT is doing, ask questions.  When your MT asks you a question:  “is this pressure alright? Are you experiencing any pain? Tell me where you hurt.”  PLEASE be completely honest.

As a licensed Massage Therapist, and with the number of techniques and the training I have received, it is my responsibility to set you at ease and leave you with an experience that is relaxing and therapeutic for your mind and body.

I am incredibly fortunate to be able to have a vocation that calls to me.  I’m so fortunate to be a part of a community whose purpose is to provide comfort to those in pain whether emotional or physical.  I’d be honored if you gave me a call at 317-623-8868, sent me an email at sandymassage49@gmail.com, or shot me a quick note on my website (http://stressknotskneaded.com/contact-me.html) so that we can discuss how I can assist you.

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Tattoos and Massage? Yes… they work well together!

I developed a penchant for tattoos at a relatively young age.  When I was 18, I went into a creepy tattoo parlor here in Indianapolis and took my rite of passage.  Back in the day, this was pretty taboo.Image

When I got older, I got my original tattoo covered with a far more professional one, and started adding to my collection.  Once upon a time, folks who had a tattoo were looked down upon.  The fact that so many artists trained for years and years to be able to master their trade and create a piece of art that lasts a lifetime was terribly overlooked and underrated.  That still happens to some degree today, but tattooing is far more accepted and it has come to be seen more and more as an art form.

I’m of the opinion that tattoos are an art form; an incredible art form that is finally coming into its own and doesn’t carry the taboo that it did when I obtained my first tattoo.  Now a day, it’s not uncommon for “kids” around 18 to get their first tattoo.  I’m sure that most of us know someone with at least one tattoo.  It’s not uncommon to sit across the table from an attorney sporting a tattoo, or a doctor that took a similar rite when she wanted to immortalize an event or pay tribute to a loved one.

Each of us who have been tattooed has our reasons for sitting through the session whether gracefully, or not (if you really want a chuckle go to this link — this is NOT the way to get a tattoo).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0aGCgcG2Qmc

  • Some of us experience a great deal of pain.
  • ImageSome of us experience some discomfort.
  • Some of us find ourselves in a meditative state while our bodies are altered and become the canvases for the artists creating the individual masterpiece to adorn the body being worked on.

Tattoos are as individual as the person getting the work done.

There is a distinct difference in a tattoo parlor and a tattoo studio.  When was the last time you stepped into an “art parlor”?  It doesn’t happen.  We go to art studios…

Massage is an art form as well.  As a massage therapist:

  • We take classes to learn anatomy and physiology.
  • We train to learn how to manipulate muscles and bring relief to aches and pains.
  • We go to workshops to learn different forms of healing (Gua Sha and cupping are favorites of mine… but more on that later).
  • We travel to workshops to learn different forms of massage (ask me about Lomi-Lomi if you REALLY want a treat and to be immersed in the art of massage!).
  • We learn to read our clients and what they need.
  • We learn to communicate through touch and non-verbal cues.
  • Our canvas, too, is the human body, but we dig beneath the flesh and work our art on tired muscles or overworked tendons that need a helping hand
  • .Image
  • To “master” our trade, we read incessantly and practice without pause.  Even when I’m sleeping, I wake up often dreaming of how to improve my skills.
  • We never truly “master” our art because each human body is as unique as a drop of water from the ocean.

Massage, as with any other form of art, is a passion and a calling.  One doesn’t wake up in the morning and decide, “Hmm…I think I’d like to be a massage therapist”, and become one.  One doesn’t doze off in the evening thinking “well… if nothing else comes up tomorrow, I think I’ll become a massage therapist”.  I’m not a tattoo artist, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that they don’t wake up impulsively and decide to buy some incredibly expensive equipment and pigments and start leaving their marks on the world.

What in the world does tattooing and massages have to do with one another?  Interestingly enough, they can be symbiotic.

  • Both are art forms that have been fighting for legitimacy since their entrance onto the modern stage.
  • Both tattoo artists and massage therapists are passionate about their work.
  • Both train incredibly hard to achieve greatness only to realize they are nowhere the pinnacle of their mastery.
  • Both bring joy and happiness, or a feeling of completion or homage to their client bases.
  • Both are located in one convenient location in downtown Indianapolis!!!

Ahhhh… now it’s making sense, I hope.  I am one of three massage therapists who are currently working out of the Firefly Tattoo Collective located at 429 E. Vermont Street in the Academy building in the Lockerbie District.Image

Traveling to the Firefly Tattoo Collective is a beautiful journey because it’s nestled in a historic area with beautiful older homes and newer homes.  Lots of trees and restaurants in the area, but this article isn’t to promote this great neighborhood downtown, it’s to let you know where to find me.

If you haven’t already clicked on the links to the Firefly website, I strongly recommend you check them out.  They’ve taken a venue that in days gone by would have been thought of as a borderline torture chamber, but they have taken the art of tattoo and created a studio that is wide open, full of natural sunlight, inviting and vibrant.  They’ve added their own pieces of fine artwork to make the location into a true artist’s studio.  They’ve incorporated into their studio two havens that are specially designed and decorated to take massage and energy healing clients to a place of deep relaxation and contentment to find peace and healing.

Even if you have no interest in getting a tattoo (or multiple), they have incredible artists that have fine art for sale and on display.  If you are interested in a tattoo (or multiple) the artists styles vary as greatly as you can imagine… The artists are Laura Black, Dina Verplank, Gerrit Verplank and Eddie Frank.

My rates can be found on my website (http://stressknotskneaded.com/types-of-massage-energy-work.html)  or through the Firefly Tattoo Collective Website (http://www.fireflytattoo.com/sandy). Feel free to email me at sandymassage49@gmail.com,  or if you are cruising around the Firefly site you can click on my page to be directed to my email address.  If you prefer, feel free to call me at 317 623 8868, please like my page on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/StressKnotsKneaded) and PLEASE share my website and blog with as many people as you are able.

I’m excited to hear from you and discuss how I can demonstrate my art form, as well as show you around my new home and introduce you to some incredibly talented artists.

Massage as Preventitive Care?

Every now and then, I surf the net for cool quotes.  I really love positive and motivational quotes because, well quite frankly, they help to feed my soul and make me feel good.

Who doesn’t want to feel good in a day?

ben-franklinWhile I was surfing the net (looking for research material for this and other articles I’m planning) I came across one from Ben Franklin that I’m sure I had heard several times previously, but it resonated this time:  “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

I started thinking again about the benefits that I’ve spelled out already in the few posts that I’ve already written.  I could re-hash them again, but there really is no need for redundancy, so you are spared (this time ).  I sat back and thought about my trade as a form of preventative medicine.  “What!?” some of you may say.  Others will think “Testify, sister”, while others will think of scenes from movies where the heretic is hanged or set aflame… that may be a bit melodramatic, but I’m sure there are a lot of people who don’t think of massage as a form of prevention for other medical issues.

I’m going to do it:  here are some of the bullet points again on the benefits of massage… and once again, it’s just a scratch to the surface:    MASSAGE31

  • Helps lower blood pressure
  • Helps reduce and / or eliminate anxiety
  • Releases strained muscles
  • Aids in sleep
  • Releases toxins
  • Helpful in aiding digestive disorders
  • Helps ease or eliminate headaches
  • Relieves pain

I think one of the benefits of massage that is overlooked is quite simply, when getting a massage; you are the sole focus of your therapist for your allotted amount of time.  You are being nurtured.  You are being cared for… I guess that is another article to be written later, though.

The definition of preventative medicine is pretty broad.  It includes blood tests, well-baby care, physicals, mammograms, cancer screenings, and early detection screenings for heart disease and diabetes.  Preventative care is specifically programs or services that will help detect a disease or potential disease, or assist in preventing injuries and / or diseases.  Preventative medicine is becoming more and more important because:

  1.  Health costs are continuing to climb.
  2. The population is aging – we’re living longer and want to LIVE not simply exist.
  3. We are learning that through early detection and treatment, many ailments or diseases can be managed far easier and at a far lesser cost as opposed to waiting until the situation is critical.

To make my point, I’d like to touch on a couple of the benefits.  I won’t go into anxiety or stress because I already covered that not long ago, but let’s look at a few of the benefits and what massage may help you or a loved one overcome or prevent.

Aids in sleep:  sleep deprivation plagues us in the US.  We work a lot of hours and don’t get nearly enough play time.  We worry a lot, and don’t take a lot of time to relax our minds and bodies.  The end result is sleep deprivation for a great many of us. ImageA CNN article stated that 1 on 3 adults in the US get less than 7 hours of sleep per night.  Big deal, you might think.  You may fit comfortably into the category of fewer than 7 hours of sleep per night.  If you are one of those folks, you may notice the following:

  • Trouble focusing
  • Moodiness
  • Increased doses of coffee or other caffeine infused drinks
  • Increased clumsiness

None of these really seem to be overly alarming until you look at other, more serious effects of lack of sleep:  increased obesity, heart problems or depression.

Helps lower blood pressure:  this doesn’t need a great deal of attention because we are told over and over again that high blood pressure leads to stroke and heart attacks.

Relieves pain:  I found an article at http://healthland.time.com that stated the following directly:  “Researchers at McMaster University in Canada found that massage affects the activity of certain genes, directly reducing inflammation in muscles — the same result you’d get by taking aspirin or ibuprofen — and boosting their ability to recover from exercise.”

Helpful in aiding with digestive disorders:  It’s not uncommon for mothers to rub a baby’s tummy when the baby is constipated.  It’s not uncommon for patients taking pain relievers such as Vicoden to suffer with constipation.  It’s not uncommon for patients undergoing chemo therapy to treat cancer to experience painful constipation. Massage increases the involuntary contractions to the muscles that move food along our intestines.  Massage can also increase colon activity.

It wouldn’t be difficult to go through the list from the beginning of the article and add a great deal more detail to what has been provided here.  There are so many medical benefits to massage.  There is no doubt in my mind that regular massage is a form of preventative medicine.

I am NOT a medical doctor.  I don’t pretend to be one.  I admire medical doctors and the discipline that they have exercised to obtain their title, but I do know what my skill-set provides, and I am incredibly proud to be a part of a community that provides so many benefits to so many people, and I’m eager to share with others what getting a massage can do.

If you’d like to know more about what I do, or what massage can do for you, I invite you to drop me a line or an email.  I can be called at (317) 623-8868 or feel free to reach me on my website (www.stressknotskneaded.com/contact-me.html).

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Can You Afford Massage?

I was sitting and talking to a friend of mine about my business.  In case anyone reading this wasn’t aware… things are tough out there.  I’m a firm believer in the power of manifestation.  There are books (The Secret) that teach the power of manifestation, there are local workshops at New Age shops in town that offer classes on occasion (New Age People is one of my favorites), there are Meetup groups where like-minded thinkers get together and discuss HOW to keep a positive outlook on things and create amazing manifestations …

Sorry, I got distracted:  we were discussing my business, and she asked me:  “how has the economy affected your business?”   I had to think a bit on this.  I’m going to be totally honest with you, because that is the only way to be authentic.  I’ve not worked at building my clientele up at a serious level until recently.  I cannot quite pinpoint the reason, but I didn’t, and now I am.  It feels “right” to me now.  It feels like now is the time to share my work and what I have to offer, so I cannot truly say the economy has hurt my business.  I cannot truly say the economy has negatively affected me.  I’m fortunate.

I started thinking about our conversation after we parted ways.  I don’t have children.  I don’t have a spouse that has lost his or her job and we’re trying to survive on half the income we once had.  I’m blessed in so very many ways.

I’m wholly aware of how the economy has touched the lives of others in my field.   I’m painfully aware of the fear that so many people are experiencing just in trying to cut back expenses and survive.  I had a serious conversation with myself over this.  I thought long and hard.  How can I, with a clear conscience, ask people to take a piece of their income and come to visit me for an hour or two?

Somewhere along the day, I got my answer.  How can I NOT ask people to come to me for a respite?

I sat down and started looking at some things.   We’ve all heard the statistics about the average family is 2.5 children and a dog.  The majority of families have both parents working outside the home.  Chances are, you (yes you), are feeling the stresses of having  a yard, a mortgage or rent, a car payment or two, and you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders.

latte The average cost for a Grande (that’s medium for those not familiar with Starbucks-anese) latte is right at $4.00… or just shy.  This includes 320 yummy calories and 13 grams of delicious fat,  top that off with 39g of carbohydrates, and you have got a dream.  This could turn into a bad dream if you are the average Starbucks consumer and visit your local Starbucks on average six times per month.  (picture courtesy of Starbucks.com)

The cost of one hour of massage with me (a full 60 minutes of absolute bliss) is equivalent to fifteen lattes (4,800 calories).

I am a big fan of going to the movies. I love sitting in a dark theater getting lost in the illusion onscreen. The movieaverage cost of one ticket for a matinee in Indianapolis is $8.00 / ticket or $11.00 / ticket for after 6 pm.  This is excluding any concessions.  Just for the sake of argument, let’s say you and your significant other go to the movies to watch the latest heart pounding superhero movie on a Saturday afternoon.  The cost for the two of you to get in to the theater is $16.00.  Concessions are practically a necessity, and now they come neatly bundled so the customer can get popcorn and two drinks and save a few cents.  For the sake of argument, lets round the concessions to about $16.00 as well.  For the cost of almost three and a half movies (plus concessions) you and your spouse or partner can leave the stresses of your day to day lives for an hour, and the benefits will last far longer than the thrills of a movie when you share a couple’s massage.  The greatest part of the couples massage vs. a movie: sometimes movies are real stinkers.  I promise you my massage will not leave you with any feelings of regret.

stressHere is my “argument” in favor of setting aside a part of your budget for yourself, or better yet for you and your partner/spouse.  Stress takes a toll on the human body:

  • Stress weakens our immune system
  • Stress  causes our muscles to tense up
  • Stress can cause narrowing of the arteries which leads to damage to our cardiovascular systems
  • Stress can increase chances of developing problems within our endocrine system.
  • Stress can have an effect on our memories and ability to learn and retain information

Coffee and movies may give a quick jolt of caffeine and / or serotonin and leave you feeling a bit happier (for the moment), but massage does SO much more and the following bullet points just begin to scratch the surface:

  • Releases tensed muscles
  • Releases toxins
  • Relieves stress
  • Soothes anxiety and depression
  • Lowers blood pressure

puppySimply put, we don’t have time for stress, but often times, we cannot avoid it.  We can, however, fight it head on.  Give me a call, email me, or set up an appointment on my website and we’ll set up a time to work in a “mini vacation” that will put you in top shape to run the corporate rat-race, participate in the local PTA, or even manage a trip to Kings Island and return with a smile on your face.

Return to www.stressknotskneaded.com

Breathing and Our Mental Health

Image

You’ll hear me repeat this quite a bit.  It’s incredibly important for the people who read my posts to understand that I am in no way a proponent of disavowing modern medicine. There is, unfortunately, a need for us to sometimes go to a doctor or a counselor.  None of us are invincible (even if we try to live as though we are when we’re in our twenties).

With that being said, I find it alarming the rate at which we in the United States turn to pharmaceuticals to ease some of our challenges.  I cannot say that I do not use prescription medications when necessary.  Again, I am not insinuating that the uses of prescriptions is unnecessary, but let’s look at some statistics on just mental health and how it is treated by traditional medicine:

There are basically five categories for antidepressants:

The “other types” are medications that don’t neatly fit into any of the other four categories or into a category all their own.  You are welcome to look these up if you’d like (here is where I found the list:  http://www.healthyplace.com/depression/antidepressants/list-of-antidepressants-list-of-medications-for-depression/#other), but I don’t want to take up time.  I’m already a bit concerned that I may end up in a rant of sorts… I guess it’s only fair that I apologize in advance (just in case). In each of the five categories, there are anywhere between three to ten different prescriptions.

Why is this alarming you may ask?  In the United States roughly 20.9 million adults live with mood disorders.  On October 19, 2011, the CDC released an article that included the following data which is parsed in the following article online:  http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db76.htm

  • Eleven percent of Americans aged 12 years and over, takes antidepressant medication.
  • Females are more likely to take antidepressants than are males, and non-Hispanic white persons are more likely to take antidepressants than are non-Hispanic black and Mexican-American persons.
  • About one-third of persons with severe depressive symptoms take antidepressant medication.
  • More than 60% of Americans taking antidepressant medication have taken it for 2 years or longer, with 14% having taken the medication for 10 years or more.
  • Less than one-third of Americans taking one antidepressant medication and less than one-half of those taking multiple antidepressants have seen a mental health professional in the past year.

When I read those statistics, I was filled with a few emotions.

  • Well good!  People are getting the help that they need.
  • Bewilderment – so many are so sad – one of the statistics not listed above, is that roughly 1 in 10 people over the age of 12 takes antidepressants.
  • Anger – less than one half of the people who are taking multiple antidepressants have had professional care in the past year.
  • Concern – not listed in the list above, but I looked up the side effects of anti-depressants.  The side effects range from minor (nausea, lack of libido, dry mouth and weight gain) to more serious (increased blood pressure), to very serious including suicidal thoughts or acting on those thoughts.

So, why are so very many turning in droves to pharmaceuticals to control emotions that we used to control, or work through on our own?  What has changed in our world?

  • The economy crashed in 2008
    • While in a recovery, in Indiana, we are still experiencing 8.7% unemployment rate (national unemployment rate is 7.6% and this only includes those who are on the unemployment rolls, not those who are working “under the table”, are “underemployed” and working two jobs to make what they once made at one job, or folks who have simply given up on looking for work).
    • The foreclosure rate in Indiana is somewhere between 10% and 11% depending on who you ask or where you find your statistics.
    • We are under constant threat of attack or going to war with other countries
    • The political climate in our country is volatile, to say the least.
    • We are inundated with reality TV that puts ideas in our heads and our children’s heads on what we are supposed to strive for as societies ideal of “success” or “beauty”

This is supposed to be a blog to come to for positive information.  I’m betting I probably just bummed out several people who took the time to read through this.  Here is the good news.  Again… I do not recommend pulling anyone off of ANY prescribed medications without first contacting your medical professional and discussing other alternatives.

I’ve learned through the years, that when we were created, we were equipped with an amazing ability to manage our stress levels, and as we travel through life’s journeys, we are programmed to ignore the abilities our Creator gave to each of us.  All of us breathe.  Without exception… each and every one of us breathes.  When we are stressed, we shorten our breaths.  When we are excited, we shorten our breaths.  When we are very aware, we lengthen our breaths.  When we lengthen our breaths, amazing things can happen.  When we lengthen our breaths, we begin to heal.

I’m a firm believer in the art of meditation, and one of the key factors in a successful meditation, is breath control.  We’re not discussing meditation in this article, though (if you want to see a list of benefits to meditating check out http://www.ineedmotivation.com/blog/2008/05/100-benefits-of-meditation/.  I loved this article, and when I tackle meditation for you, I promise to credit the site again. Before you jump to that site, though, please complete this one).

We breathe to live.  “Breath is Life”.  Yogis in India have practiced the art of breath for thousands of years, literally.  When we take classes that focus on controlled movement (tai chi or yoga), we are taught to control our breathing.  We are actually taught to revert back to the breathing technique infant’s use.  How amazing is it that we learn to stop breathing correctly as we move through our lives?  Breathing has a direct effect on your mental state.  Breathing has a direct effect on your physical state.  Why do we pay so little attention to it?  The long and short of it is two-fold:  we get lazy, and we are influenced by society.  It’s hard to think of being lazy when it comes to breathing, isn’t it?

Just out of curiosity, how many times since you started reading this have you changed your breathing pattern?  It’s that simple.  A tiny bit of focus, and your breathing can become healthier.

Again, let me go back to the benefits of breathing and how simple breathing exercises can benefit your mental health.

  1.  Deep breathing results in less stress.  How?  The parasympathetic nervous system is activated when we breathe in slow deep breaths.  When this system is healthy, our immune system is healthier.  When our immune system is healthy, our “fight or flight” isn’t triggered as readily as it is when we are not tip-top.  Think about an animal in the wild, or even your pet dog.  When my dog was recovering from a very serious injury, his fight or flight kicked in any time I had to move him to take him to the doctor.  He wasn’t mean, he was scared.  Depression is extended periods of fear that have taken control of our lives.  If we eliminate the fears in our life, our fight or flight will reduce in turn, and we will then lower our risk of depression or at the very least, the length of the episodes that we experience.
  2. Deep breathing creates a state in which we are more aware of our surroundings.  If we are more aware, again, we are less fearful.  Fear leads to anger.

Image           (Who doesn’t love Yoda?  )

One of the side effects of depression is anger.  Unfortunately, many of us lash out against the people we love the most in the world.  When we are in a depressed state, unfortunately again, our relationships suffer.  The people who love us the most want us healthy.  We want us healthy.  When we are depressed, though, we may have a tendency to “snap off” and say something we cannot take back.  Once the words are out, we cannot take them back. Of course, this can cause arguments or worse.  When we are in an unhappy situation within our relationships, we can dive into depressive states.  It becomes a nasty cycle.  Rather than spitting out words you will regret, stop and breathe.

ImageBreathing won’t fix everything that is wrong in our lives.  Stopping and taking deep breaths isn’t going to miraculously put your life back in order, but it’s a WONDERFUL starting place.  Each and every one of us has the ability to stop, and count to 5 or 10 or 15 and with each count, breathe in a little deeper until we feel the emotions controlling us losing their grip.  Each of us has the ability to set into place visualizations in conjunction with breathing exercises.  We’ll look at that in a future article.

I hope you take a few extra minutes to breathe deeply today and think back on the things that you have that are GOOD in your life.

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