Depression during menopause is one of the most challenging symptoms to tackle, especially when a woman is also plagued with other physical and emotional discomforts.
Because standard depression treatment - that is, medications - are known to cause side effects, safe and natural ways to combat depression are urgently sought after. With that purpose in mind, Iranian scientists conducted this clinical trial to determine the effects of foot reflexology on depression during menopause.
Enrolled in the trial were 90 menopausal women with depression, which were assigned to two groups: the control group and the intervention group. All women have been receiving routine care for their symptoms at the gynecology clinic.
Participants in the intervention group received 30 minutes of foot reflexology twice weekly for six weeks as well as continuous routine menopause care. Women in the control group received just the routine menopausal care.
Each foot reflexology session consisted of three stages:
General foot massage
Stimulation of the solar plexus reflex point
Stimulation of the reflex point related to the hypothalamus gland, pituitary gland, heart, lungs, and adrenal gland.
Outcomes of the trial were measured with the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) questionnaire, which determines depression symptom severity. It was filled out by the participants at three intervals: before the study, at its completion, and two months after it ended.
When analyzing the results of the three follow-ups, researchers found a significant decrease of mean depression scores in the intervention group before the study and two months after its completion. There were no improvements observed in the control group.
Intervention group: 26.97 before the study and 21.20 two months after its completion
Control group: 26.15 before the study and 26.66 two months after its completion
Notable improvements in the reflexology group were already observed at the six-week follow-up (26.97 at baseline vs. 22.55 after six weeks). The control group, on the other hand, had higher depression scores after six weeks (26.15 at baseline vs. 26.22 after six weeks).
What Does It Mean?
The findings of this study confirm that foot reflexology can decrease menopause depression. This trial has added value to an already existing body of evidence on the positive effects of foot reflexology on depression, stress, and immunity during menopause.1
Equipping middle-aged women with natural and non-invasive ways to treat menopause depression and other symptoms has far-reaching benefits. It helps them enjoy stronger social bonds, reduce work absenteeism, and improve overall performance, all of which allow them to go through inevitable mid-life changes feeling more empowered and in control over their health.
- Complementary Therapies in Medicine. (2019). The effects of foot reflexology on depression during menopause: A randomized controlled clinical trial. Retrieved October 12, 2020 from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S096522991930281X
- Journal of Korean Academy of Nursing. (2006). Effect of Self-Foot Reflexology Massage on Depression, Stress Responses and Immune Functions of Middle-Aged Women. from https://jkan.or.kr/DOIx.php?id=10.4040/jkan.2006.36.1.179