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Do touching against depressive moods help?
Many people develop depressive moods known as autumn blues in the gray season. "Warmth, exercise and regular physical contact" can help here, explains Dr. Martin Grunwald, haptic researcher at the Medical Faculty of the University of Leipzig, in a current press release from the university hospital.
The dark, wet and cold weather is not only uncomfortable, but also quickly affects the mood, reports the Leipzig University Hospital. As a simple recipe, however, warmth, exercise and regular physical contact are recommended, says Dr. Grunwald. A massage lasting ten minutes a day can lighten the mood significantly. The touch and body interaction would cause complex neurobiological processes.
The importance of touch sense underestimated
According to the expert, the importance of the sense of touch system is “mercilessly underestimated to this day.” Many people believe that the sense of touch “only helps to find the alarm clock in the dark and otherwise only plays an important role in sexual acts,” says the head of the Haptic research laboratories of the medical faculty. This is "an extreme shortening of the basic life functions of this sensory system."
We cannot survive without a sense of touch
No living thing would be viable without the sense of touch, whereas organisms that cannot see, hear or taste cannot survive, explains the haptic researcher. It is not without reason that the number of receptors in the sense system exceeds that of the other sense systems. "Estimates assume a number in the trillion range," reports the Leipzig University Hospital. These receptors would be stimulated in particular by touching or "slight deformation of the skin", Grunwald added.
Biochemical and bioelectric processes triggered
According to the expert, studies with EEG examinations have shown that short-term massages in both infants and adults have a positive effect on the neurophysiological status. "Touch stimuli trigger biochemical and bioelectric processes in the brain," explains Dr. As a result, certain hormones and neurotransmitters would be released and formed, which affect brain activity and positively change the physical condition.
Ten minutes of massage are enough
The effects of the touch cause the heart rate to decrease, breathing becomes shallower and positive emotions arise, reports the expert. Just a ten-minute massage is enough to trigger these complex neurobiological processes. A professional massage is not absolutely necessary for the touch effects. Here, "the biological law applies that through adequate human contact - without sexual intentions - positive emotions are triggered in our brain."
Lack of touch can affect the mind
According to the expert, the positive effect of the touch can even be triggered by brief hugs. And if you have to do without this "special food" for a long time, your mental and physical well-being can be severely impaired. In addition, in the dark season, there are the negative effects of lack of light, which also affects many people's minds.
Basic need for body interactions
"When it is cloudy, cold and wet outside, we have to be more active in our well-being," emphasizes Dr. Here it can also help people in a partnership to spend more cuddle time with each other. "Humans have a basic need for such body interactions from toddlers to old people," explains the expert. Due to the close proximity to the body, not only skin deformations are generated, but also heat is transferred and it is good for us.
Different functions of the sense of touch
According to Dr. Grunwald has an exteroceptive, a proprioceptive, and an interoceptive function. The perception of surface structures, information about temperature, weight, elasticity or roughness describe the so-called exteroceptive, i.e. outward-looking function. The perception of one's own body or the position of the body in space (legs down, head up) form the proprioceptive component and the perception of information about certain organ functions such as the heartbeat or the stomach grumble.
Function of self-touch unclear
The positive effects of touch According to Grunwald, however, they cannot be reached by touching themselves. In any case, every person touches their faces about 400 to 800 times a day. Try the purpose of this self-touch Grunwald and colleagues are currently decoding in further research work. The brain may be trying to balance the forces. Because "all biological systems strive for homeostasis, ie a balance of forces, a balance", because the brain works best when it is at a medium level of activity, says Grunwald.
The system strives for balance
In everyday life we are confronted with innumerable information that the brain processes or suppresses. But some of them are able to upset the system, such as very strong positive or negative emotions, Dr. Here, a face-related self-touch is triggered to restore balance, the expert suspects. The touch stimulates the brain so that the state of balance is restored.
"At the moment, however, we are still at the very beginning to understand this complex biological process of self-contact," limits the haptic researcher. This everyday phenomenon is particularly exciting because the fetus already touches the face in the womb. It is also important to find out what difference it makes for brain activity, whether people touch with their left or right hand. (fp)