Spoiling myself at the salon

More Than Just Muscles: Remedial Massage Therapy for Mental Health

by Keith Fox

Remedial massage therapy is often thought of in terms of muscle injuries and targeted physical pain, and it's certainly effective in those cases. Did you know that it can also be offered as a treatment for many mental health conditions? It can form part of a treatment regime for anxiety, depression, fatigue, stress and addiction recovery. But how exactly does it treat these conditions, and what effects and benefits can a patient expect to see?


Massages can be very soothing experiences, and they provide space for the recipient to relax and clear their thoughts. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to have a positive effect on many mental health conditions, and massages are almost like physically assisted mindfulness sessions. They give patients a chance to focus on the present moment, absorb the calming environment they're in and just enjoy a pleasant experience.

Body Chemistry

In basic terms, massage releases beneficial chemicals in the brain that produce positive mental effects. In more specific terms, it ramps up the body's production of endorphins. Lowered levels of endorphins such as dopamine and serotonin are associated with many mental health conditions. In particular, anxiety and depression medications often work by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain. Equally, massage can also lower levels of cortisol, which can alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety.

Symptom Management

Many sufferers of mental health conditions experience direct physical symptoms. For example, anxiety can cause the muscles to tense up. This happens most notably in areas such as the shoulders and the neck, but it can be anywhere in the body. This can be both painful and self-perpetuating. Massage can treat these issues directly, releasing sufferers from these unpleasant side issues.

Preparation and Pre-Emptive Treatment

Rather than just addressing problems after they've already occurred, remedial massage can form part of an action plan to manage mental health symptoms in advance. For example, sufferers may schedule appointments before stressful events such as surgery, meeting new people, taking on new responsibilities at work, major travel or anything else that may trigger or worsen a patient's mental health condition. This may allow a patient to approach an upcoming obstacle with strong intentions and a clear mind, significantly reducing the adverse effects they might otherwise have suffered.

Of course, no treatment is suitable for every patient, and it's always best to discuss what treatments will work for you with a health professional. However, it's well worth considering remedial massage as an option and seeing for yourself what benefits it can bring. Reach out to a professional if you think you could benefit from remedial massage therapy.