Studies conducted around the world have proven that properly applied massage therapy can provide a variety of mental health benefits. When combined with psychotherapy, massages can help alleviate symptoms of conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder and generalized anxiety. However, new evidence suggests that massages may be both psychologically and physiologically beneficial to everyone. Below is a look at the latest research surrounding the mental health benefits of professional massages.
Treating Depression and Anxiety
Anyone who suffers from chronic depression and anxiety knows that emotional pain often manifests as physical pain. Fortunately, massages address both types of aches. Taiwanese scientists recently published a meta-study concluding that massages can improve depression symptoms while researchers at Kyushu University in Japan discovered that facial massages reduce physiological distress. The Japanese team proposed that facial massages activate the sympathetic nervous systems, which relaxes the body and lifts the mood. Regardless of your current emotional state, a massage can likely give you a mental boost.
Balancing Neurotransmitters and Hormones
In addition to stimulating the nervous system, massages also activate neurotransmitters that reduce the production of stress hormones. Doctors at the University of Miami School of Medicine discovered that regular massages can lower cortisol while increasing serotonin and dopamine levels by up to 30 percent.
Improving Veteran Health
On top of the physical danger they face, veterans are prone to several psychological conditions. Fortunately, a study published in Military Medicine claims that massages have been successful in reducing pain, anxiety, depression and similar symptoms in veteran populations. A clinical psychologist at Fort Bliss Restoration and Resilience Center uses various massage techniques to treat PTSD. Massages can deactivate veterans’ hyper-aroused survival mechanisms to help them sleep and resume a normal civilian life.
Reducing Stress at Work
According to a Mayo Clinic study, 38 nurses who received weekly chair massages while at work reported significant reductions in stress-related symptoms such as headaches, muscle pain, fatigue and restlessness over a 10 week period. Healthier employees tend to work harder, which is why many companies have started offering massages to their employees as a way to boost morale and productivity.
With so Many Massages to Choose From, Which is Right for You?
Different techniques are used to achieve different effects and address specific issues. To get the results you desire, talk to your therapist upfront about your goals. Be honest about your symptoms so that they can properly tailor your massage therapy.