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Massage and self-rejection

How massage helps with eating disorders

Nowadays, many people worry about their weight, volume and appearance. However, in some cases, this concern is rampant and becomes a problem that leads not only to eating disorders, but also to a change in the perception of oneself and one’s own body. Often, obsessive thoughts, a decrease in self-esteem, and depression accompany this. We, massage therapists, work not only with the body, but also with the soul of the client, so we should know how to support a client who has difficulty accepting himself.

Eating disorders are very multifaceted – both anorexia and bulimia have their etiology, symptoms, criteria for assessing the severity and associated health problems. At the center of anorexia lies a person’s false beliefs that reducing weight and volume will make his life better and save him from various problems, and bulimia is an obsessive desire to consume large amounts of food, and then get rid of it by inducing vomiting and. etc. – often this behavior is a protective mechanism aimed at combating nervous tension.

People suffering from anorexia often bring themselves to an extreme degree of exhaustion, while those suffering from bulimia often manage to maintain normal weight.

The results of a number of studies have revealed the main psychological difference between people with bulimia and anorexia – impulsivity. The main motivating factor for many people with anorexia is control, and in bulimia, insatiable hunger and the desire to induce vomiting after eating are triggered by an impulse, the purpose of which is to relieve nervous tension caused, for example, by another sharp awareness of its mismatch with unrealistic social standards and so on. Doctors often identify both of these diagnoses in their patients. It is important to note that with bulimia and with anorexia, physical symptoms can be almost invisible.

Some statistics

The results of a recent study on the prevalence of eating disorders among young people show that about half a million adolescents suffer from various eating disorders. But what scares the most: the first prerequisites for the development of disorders of this kind are observed in children already at the age of 12-13 years, and the violations themselves are fully manifested by 17-18 years. In most cases, people continue to suffer from adolescent anorexia and / or bulimia in adulthood.

Eating disorders often develop due to problems with self-esteem control of emotions. A key contribution to the formation of eating disorders is made by difficulties in relationships with friends and family, physical, emotional or sexual abuse, loss of loved ones, nervous tension and a feeling of loss of control over one’s own life.

How can a massage therapist help?

The kind, competent and caring touch of a masseur not only helps to prevent the development of the disorders discussed in this article at an early age, but also to cope with them. At the initial stages of the development of the child, the touch of the mother, medical personnel (including massage therapists) and other people around them form healthy emotional boundaries of the body. If this does not happen or if this process is violated in any way, in later life people begin to perceive their body incorrectly, consider it disproportionate, shapeless or too large. Physical methods of education through touch, hugs of the mother and. etc. play an important role in the formation of the right image of a person’s body, and this is especially true for women.

The benefits of massage for bulimia and anorexia

Several years ago, a study was conducted on the benefits of massage for anorexia nervosa. Scientists selected 19 women suffering from this eating disorder and divided them into two groups – participants from the first group underwent standard therapy, from the second – standard therapy combined with massage (two sessions per week for thirty minutes for five weeks).

Invited massage therapists used the classic (Swedish) full body massage technique. Participants in the study from the second group noted that the massage helped them cope with nervous tension and anxiety. This was confirmed by analyzes: in blood samples of participants of the second group taken immediately after the massage session, a significantly lower level of cortisol was found than in blood samples of participants from the first group. In addition, after five weeks of therapy, all participants from the second group showed an increase in dopamine and norepinephrine levels, as well as a decrease in their body dissatisfaction according to the Eating Disorder Inventory questionnaire.

In a similar study, 24 girls aged 16 to 19 years suffering from bulimia were randomly divided into two groups: the control group and the massage group.

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