Benefits of massage therapy for mental health

In the United States, almost half of adults will experience a mental health challenge during their lifetime. A growing body of research is supporting the notable benefits of massage therapy for mental health, including relief of stress, anxiety, and depression. Read on to learn more about the ways massage can improve your mental health and wellbeing.

What is mental health?

Benefits of massage therapy for mental health

Mental health is simply a person’s state of mind. It is associated with emotional and psychological well-being. Mental health problems can vary from the worries of everyday life to serious chronic conditions and are increasing fast in our modern life. Normally, there are two main groups of mental health, namely “neurotic” and “psychotic”. 

  • Neurotic problems: severe symptoms of some normal emotion such as anxiety, depression, panic,… Those common conditions can be severe and long-lasting, which leaves negative impacts on people’s lives. 
  • Psychotic behavior: It is a less common form of mental health, but can interfere with a person’s perception of reality. 

On the whole, mental health problems can negatively or positively affect the way you think, feel and behave (mostly negatively). Many issues can be ruled out by a doctor and treated with medication, and secondary treatment such as massage.

Benefits of massage therapy for mental health

Massage therapy can be applied for relaxation purposes in both physiological and psychological forms. 

  • Physiological relaxation: The increase in the elasticity, flexibility, and pliability of the body’s tissues. For example, once the musculoskeletal system is free from tension, the patient can feel less in pain and also enjoy an increase in their range of movement. 
  • Psychological relaxation: The reduction in the number of stress hormones released such as cortisol in the blood.  This will level off the feeling of stress, anxiety, and depression in patients.

The therapists at Iris Cancer Partnership can provide massage treatment that can benefit all individuals. At the end of our oncology massage therapy session, you can easily manage a mental health condition in both a physical and psychological sense.

Massage Therapy Can Relieve Stress

Stress is prevalent in these days’ fast-changing world and can negatively impact people’s well-being. To deal with such a situation, massage therapy comes in and shows to significantly decrease stress on both physiological and psychological levels. There’s research that validates the benefits of massage therapy for mental health.

According to a study on the effects of trigger point therapy in 2015, massage can definitely help to reduce stress in participants. During periods of stress, there is an increase in the level of cortisol, a hormone that produces stress, anxiety, and fear. In the experiment, massage was shown to effectively inhibit the production of cortisol, giving the individual relief from stress. In particular, there was a significant reduction in diastolic blood pressure, systolic blood pressure, and heart rate as well.

At the same time, after 10 to 15 minutes of chair massage, figures of oxygen consumption, salivary cortisol level, and blood pressure were all lower.  Some other symptoms could also be reduced to some extent such as headaches, insomnia, shoulder tension, fatigue, joint and muscle pain.

Massage Therapy for Anxiety

Benefits of massage therapy for mental health

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 45 million adult Americans are suffering from anxiety disorders. To make the matter worse, anxiety can negatively impact the quality of life for individuals. So, to help patients deal with this state of mental issue, massage can make an effective treatment. It elevates neurotransmitters associated with lowering anxiety and decreases hormones associated with increasing anxiety.

Research supports that massage can relieve anxiety in psychiatric patients, people with chronic pain, children with illnesses, the elderly, cancer patients, patients with generalized anxiety disorder, and even healthy adults. A study published in Applied Nursing Research shows that back massage during chemotherapy can remarkably decrease anxiety and acute fatigue. Besides, an experiment conducted by Military Medicine also reports the benefits of massage for mental health. Specifically, military veterans indicated that after the massage, there are significant decreases in ratings of worry, anxiety, depression, and physical pain.

Massage Therapy for Depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder

For many patients who suffer from depression, the first thing to come to mind is a psychotherapy visit. They will see a trained and experienced mental health professional to talk to (with medication). Now, people have a better understanding of how secondary treatment options can be beneficial. And, massage therapy can have great promise in relieving depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder.

The effect of massage therapy on depression is virtually the same as those routinely found in the research of psychotherapy for people with the same conditions. Massage can reduce depression, improve mood in those living with chronic pain. Especially in cancer patients, people living with chronic disease, and pregnant women.

Regarding seasonal affective disorder, about one in five Americans is suffering from the severe condition. Studies have shown that regular massage sessions can improve mood and reset circadian rhythms, leading to better sleep, and more energy.

Massage treatment to clarify our mind

Massage can help produce clarity of mind. When having a massage, people have time to relax and think about current problems without any distractions. These valuable moments can be essential to reduce anxiety, stress,  and avoid depression. The application of gentle, slow, and long massage strokes can enable the individual to experience clarity of mind. 

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