Massage Therapy for Depression

Mental Fitness, Relaxation

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A recent review of more than a dozen massage studiesconducted by the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine concludes that massage therapy relieves depression and anxiety. It does so by affecting the body’s biochemistry.

In a group of studies which included about 500 men, women, and children with depression or stress problems, researchers measured the stress hormone cortisol in participants before and immediately after massage. Massage therapy lowered levels by up to 53%.

Massage also increased serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters that help reduce depression.

Speaking from experience, a good massage therapist can work wonders. After a car wreck messed my back up, a chiropractor put me back together – or at least it seemed that way! The chiropractor’s daughter, a “Core Massage Therapist,” was in business with her and my visits to her did as much for my back as the adjustments did. I also noticed that on the days I received massages, I was more relaxed than on other days. There was quite a bit of stress surrounding the accident – my car was totaled, the insurance agency of the other driver…the one in the wrong…. was a separate pain in a separate location, plus being in pain causes its own kind of stress. However, on the days I was in the massage therapist’s hands – none of that seemed to matter nearly as much.

To find a qualified massage therapist, visit The American Massage Therapy Association. Or check with your local chiropractic offices, they often have massage therapists on staff.

Make each moment count double,

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13 comments… add one
  • haha i want a massage… NOW.

  • Ramin, you are so right! If skeptics were to experience what they’re missing, they wouldn’t be skeptics anymore! -Joi

  • Steph, sign me up, too! -Joi

  • Pennie Wolfe Link

    I am a massage therapist. I specialize in depression. I currently work with local doctors and family councilors who deal with depressed patients every day. The effects of massage on a depressed client is profound!!! I have seen wonderful changes in these people over a period of time,and regular visits to the spa where I work. I think it wise that doctors are starting to look at natural healing on a more serious level, and not just putting it off as “hippie” jibberish!
    Hooray for massage therapy, and kudos to the therapists that put their healing hands on people everyday!!!

  • dav Link

    Massage therapy looks promising as a treatment for depression.


    Dual Diagnosis

  • I’m a LMT in Naples, Fl and very much interested in finding out about massage techniques that are specific to grief and depression. Does anyone have a resource or information on this? Thanks.

  • Dori, I’m actually working on a new article about massage as it relates to grief and depression. This is a fascinating area that really excites me – can you imagine, so many people getting relief from pain… without medication or side effects? The article, with accompanying resources, will hopefully be up by tomorrow! – Joi

  • Having a good massage can help reduces stresses that lead to depression. It is the perfect cure for many situations.

  • I totally agree. A great massage seems to release tension and anxieties as though they never existed!

  • Great job! This one is an instant classic!


  • If you’ve never had a massage, don’t put it off — not for a minute. In our stress-worn world, an allover body massage might be just what you need.
    Just ask Ms. Connelly, a plucky 60ish southern lady. Her fallopian tube cancer became evident only after it had spread through her pelvis. The weeks when she’s getting chemotherapy are tough; her energy is zapped. She’s making the best of the cards dealt her.

  • 53% reduction in the stress hormone seems like a large amount. Its great that you found so much relief from your massage therapy sessions. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Massage CEU News, 53 percent is huge, isn’t it? What a total difference that must makes in the way one feels!

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