Reuters reports on a recent scientific study where a team of doctors “searched for randomized controlled trials of massage therapy in depressed patients. They identified 17 studies including 786 people in all. In 13 of the trials, massage therapy was compared to another active treatment such as Chinese herbs, relaxation exercises, or rest, while four compared massage to a “no treatment” control group. Investigators also used a range of methods for evaluating mood and depression in study participants.
Overall, the studies, which were of “moderate” quality, showed that massage therapy had “potentially significant effects” in alleviating symptoms of depression, the researchers report in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
It’s not clear from the analysis, they emphasize, whether a person would need to undergo regular massage therapy for benefits to persist.
There are a number of ways through which massage could help people with depression, the researchers note, for example, by reducing stress and inducing relaxation; building an “alliance” between the therapist and patient; and by causing the body to release the “trust hormone” oxytocin.”