Research supports the positive impact of massage for mental health because it helps relieve stress, anxiety, and depression. This is great news as almost half of adults in the United States will experience a mental health challenge during their lifetime.

Stress Relief

Stress is prevalent in today’s society and can have a negative impact on your health and well-being. Massage therapy has been shown to reduce stress physiologically and psychologically. While massage therapists and their clients know this from experience, there is also considerable research that validating it. Studies show that massage for nurses during working hours can lead to reduced stress and related symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue and muscle and joint pain.


Per the National Institute of Mental Health, over 40 million American adults suffer from anxiety disorders. Living with these issues can have a negative impact on an individual’s quality of life. Massage therapy can elevate neurotransmitters associated with lowering anxiety, such as serotonin and dopamine. It can also decrease hormones associated with increasing anxiety, such as cortisol, and can therefore be an effective management strategy. For example, a study published in Military Medicine reports that veterans indicated significantly lower ratings of anxiety, depression, and physical pain after a massage therapy session. The same study also indicates lower levels of tension and irritability following massage.

Depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder

The first solution for many who suffer from depression is psychotherapy, and at times prescribed medication. People are also beginning to better understand how combining various treatment options can be beneficial. So far, massage therapy shows great potential for alleviating depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder. One in five Americans are impacted by Seasonal Affective Disorder, which can leave many feeling depressed and lethargic. Studies have now shown that receiving regular massage therapy can improve mood and reset circadian rhythms. This leads to improved mood, better sleep, and more energy.

The body of research supporting the benefits of massage for mental health is a growing and more studies are being done in all the time. Keep in mind that massage therapy should not be a substitution for mental health counseling or prescriptions. Instead, combine it with your already established treatment.