Myofascial Tissue and Depression

Cognit Ther Res. 2022;46(3):560-572. doi: 10.1007/s10608-021-10282-w. Epub 2021 Dec 21.


Background: The myofascial system plays a fundamental role in the mechanics of the body, in body tension regulation and the etiology of pathological states like chronic pain. Moreover, it contains contractile elements and preliminary evidence suggests that its properties are linked to psychological factors. The aim of the present research was to investigate characteristics of the myofascial tissue in patients with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and to examine whether the state of the myofascial tissue causally affects pathopsychological processes in MDD.

Methods: In Study 1, stiffness and elasticity of the myofascial tissue of 40 inpatients suffering from MDD measured with a tissue compliance meter were compared with those of 40 matched never-depressed participants. In Study 2, 69 MDD patients were randomly assigned to single-session self-myofascial release intervention (SMRI) or a placebo intervention. Effects on memory bias and affect were investigated.

Results: Results showed that MDD patients displayed heightened stiffness and reduced elasticity of the myofascial tissue and that patients in the SMRI group showed a reduced negative memory bias and more positive affect compared to patients in the placebo condition.

Conclusions: The preliminary results of our studies indicate that the myofascial tissue might be part of a dysfunctional body-mind dynamic that maintains MDD.

Supplementary information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s10608-021-10282-w.

Keywords: Depression; Embodiment; Memory bias; Myofascial tissue.