The 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing found that 45% of Australians (or 7.3 million) aged 16-85 had experienced a mental health issue at some point.  Every year, 1 million Australians over 18 experience depression, and over 2 million experience anxiety. For more mental health statistics, you can head here.

Beyond Blue recognises that some symptoms of depression can include fatigue, sleeping problems, feeling stressed, overwhelmed, getting headaches, and muscle pains.  Similarly, Black Dog Insitute explains that symptoms of anxiety can include trouble concentrating, muscle tension, difficulty sleeping and feeling worried.

Benefits of Massage for Mental Health

Reduce Stress

Stepping into the massage room provides an awesome opportunity to leave your worries at the door.  It’s easy to get caught up with running around, the stress of daily life, and massage can help you to stop and take time for you.  Functional brain imaging data showed that massage with moderate pressure made a difference in the amygdala and hypothalamus (areas involved in stress and emotion regulation).

Improve Sleep Quality

Most parents will know that baby massage is one of the go-to techniques to help with sleep, so it would come as no suprise that this is also transferrable to adults.  This study found that after receiving regular massage for a month, patients spent more time in deep sleep.  According to, a gentle 3-minute back massage can help you get at least 35 minutes more sleep.

Help Alertness and Awareness

Focus and alertness is not something normally associated with massage.  Studies found that when employees received a short 15-minute chair massage, they were able to perform tasks and problem solve better than beforehand.  According to this study, this is believed to be because muscle tension diverts blood flow to that part of your body, instead of your brain.  Once that tension is massaged away, circulation improves, increasing oxygen and nutrients to the brain.

Increase Serotonin

Apart from looking awesome in its molecular breakdown, serotonin is your body’s natural mood stabilizer.  Serotonin can help with sleeping, reducing depression, regulating anxiety and decreasing pain in the body.  This source found that the body’s serotonin levels can be increased with massage.

For more info on Serotonin, you can head here.

Reduce Cortisol

According to cortisol is a hormone that is usually released in the body when stressed.  When cortisol isn’t being released in the right quantities, all sorts of problems can occur.  A study found that after 10-15 minute chair massages, cortisol levels in saliva were lower.  Another study found that when cortisol is reduced, it can help to improve symptoms of anxiety. 

Other Good Hormones Are Released

Many mental health websites refer to loneliness as a symptom of depression, which can lead to withdrawing from friends and the community, minimising human touch.  Fortunately, oxytocin (the cuddle hormone) and dopamine can be released through massage.

Massage therapy is an enjoyable option for those wanting to improve their mental health wellbeing, and can work well alongside traditional medications and therapies such as psychology and counselling.  If you’re worried about your mental health, please speak to your GP or reach out to one of the organisations listed below.


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