Massage and Mental Health

Massage and Mental Health

What Is Mental Health?

Mental health relates to our well-being in the physical, emotional, and social realms. It has a major impact on how we live our lives and respond to stressors in the environment. Mental health problems can develop for environmental, biological, and genetic factors. For example, there may be a family history of mental illness, a chemical imbalance, or a trauma that has caused the problem.

The function of human brain in robot mode

Mental illness is a very prevalent problem worldwide. As of 2107, there were 792 million people living with a mental health issue globally, which is about 10%.  The most common problem is anxiety at 3.8%, followed by depression at 3.4%.

Treatment for mental illness can involve therapy and/or prescription medication from a psychiatrist. There are also alternative methods such as mindfulness and meditation, and massage. Research has demonstrated the effectiveness of massage therapy in treating mental health problems.

Benefits of Massage for Mental Health

An example of head massage treatment

According to the evidence, massage therapy is a very beneficial treatment method for various mental health problems, including stress, anxiety, depression, and anorexia nervosa.

Stress: We all experience stress in this high-paced, busy world, and it can have a negative impact on our bodies and minds. Research indicates that massage can reduce stress levels, as well as associated physical health issues like headaches, fatigue, insomnia, muscle and joint pain, and headaches. In addition, studies have shown that massage lowers blood pressure.

Anxiety: Several studies have found evidence that massage therapy can lessen feelings of anxiety and induce greater calmness. A study published in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science concluded that massage was very effective at diminishing workplace anxiety.

A young woman with anxiety

Depression: Massage is helpful at increasing feelings of positive mood in people who are depressed. There’s some evidence that it’s just as effective as psychotherapy in some cases. It’s certainly an excellent accompanying treatment, along with therapy. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that massage was a very successful treatment for depression.

Anorexia Nervosa: Massage is a viable treatment for eating disorders like anorexia nervosa. One study found that after 5 weeks of massage therapy, women suffering from this disorder reported a better opinion of their own bodies, as well as lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. In addition, levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin related to mood were higher.

How Does Massage Therapy Function for Mental Illness?

A young man has massage treatment

Massage lowers levels of cortisol in the body. This is a hormone which is linked to stress, and it’s produced in the adrenal glands. Lowering its levels can lessen stress and anxiety. High levels of cortisol can also lead to physical health issues like fatigue, increased heart rate, and high blood pressure. Therefore, massage is effective for reducing both mental and physical health problems.

Massage can also increase levels of key neurotransmitters linked to mood, like dopamine and serotonin. This can ease the symptoms of depression and elevate positive mood. It’s also an effective treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder. It can help reset the circadian rhythm which improves both mood and sleep.

Best Mental Health Massage Techniques

When it comes to mental health, some massage techniques are better than others. We recommend:

Shiatsu: This method attempts to improve the energy flow through the body by activating pressure points. It’s helpful for various mental health problems like depression and anxiety.

A woman has a shiatsu massage treatment

Swedish: This involves a lot of stroking, stretching and kneading. It can enhance bodily circulation, and release stress.

Hot Stone: With this method, they place hot stones on certain key areas of the body. This is an excellent technique for lifting stress and anxiety.


Mental health problems and stress are very widespread, and it’s important to have effective treatments which ease the symptoms and improve your quality of life. Massage is one such approach that can make a big difference.

Research indicates how helpful it is as a technique, especially when used alongside other mental health treatments. The evidence is strong enough to make it very worthwhile to give regular massage a try. Contact us at Delta Physiotherapy, Dahl Family Chiropractic to make an appointment for a relaxing massage, or for other physical treatments such as chiropractic, acupuncture, or personal training. We look forward to seeing you!