Massage as a Form of Help for Anxiety

You might be considering massage for anxiety.  Massage has been suggested as a form of help for anxiety attacks.  However, since it’s useful to always look at the research, I want to begin by looking at some studies.

A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, indicated that researchers found that a 30-minute back massage given daily for five days reduced anxiety of hospitalized, depressed and adjustment disorder children and adolescents.

Another study published in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, indicated that researchers found that significant reductions in anxiety levels were found in employees receiving on-site chair massage.

Additionally, I was able to glean some more interesting information from the Registered Massage Therapists’ Association of Ontario.

For instance, massage has been documented as one of the oldest healing arts in the world. Records documenting its use date back over 3000 years.

There are hundreds of different kinds of massage and bodywork techniques.

Here are all the great things that can accompany a massage:

The metabolic rate of the body slows down.

Breathing becomes more regular and the heart rate comes down to normal range.

The blood lactate level also falls significantly.  Lactate is responsible for the muscular fatigue.

Blood pressure decreases.

Brain waves are altered in a beneficial way

The body secretes protective mood altering neurotransmitters. One of these, known as serotonin, is a powerful hormone associated with feelings of happiness, contentment and relaxation.

It is easy to see that the relaxation induced through massage can be a form of help for anxiety.

Additional benefits that have been suggested are:

Improved concentration
Enhanced quality of sleep
Reduced or eliminated pain
Improved joint mobility
Improved circulation
Improved immune system functioning
Increased lymphatic drainage
Reduced tension within muscles
Reduced fatigue and increased energy

Ultimately it has been said that massage helps relieve the stresses and tensions of everyday living that can eventually lead to disease and illness. The negative effects of many illnesses can be exacerbated by stress.

Also massage is a great alternative to the unhealthy feel-good mechanisms that many people use in their life as a means of escape.

Going to a registered massage therapist is the way to receive a massage for your anxiety from a professional, but massage is something that a friend or partner can provide.

Our take on massage for anxiety:

As outlined, there is research showing that massage for anxiety can be helpful.  And there are a number of potential benefits.  It’s a pleasurable way to treat yourself from time to time while receiving the health benefits.  I would not consider massage to be a primary treatment for anxiety but it can be included as part of an overall approach for anxiety and panic attacks.  Many health plans through private insurers provide coverage for massage therapy.

References (Massage as a Form of Help for Anxiety)

1. Internet Health Library. Message Therapy Research. Retrieved January 18, 2012, from

2. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 1992, 31, 1:125–131.
Accessible via:

3. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 1996, 32, 2:160-173
Accessible via:

4. Registered Massage Therapists’ Association of Ontario from