A growing body of research is documenting the impact of massage therapy for relief of anxiety and depression for people in a wide range of health situations. For example, in a controlled study composed of HIV-positive adolescents, participants who received massage therapy reported feeling less anxious and less depressed by the end of the 12-week study.
A randomized study found women with stage 1 and 2 breast cancer benefited from regular massage therapy sessions. The immediate massage benefits included reduced anxiety, depressed mood and anger while the long-term impact reduced depression and increased serotonin values. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter with functions in various parts of the body, works to regulate mood, appetite, sleep, memory and learning. Massage therapy was also found to improve sleep, specifically by assisting with circadian rhythms, or the body clock. A study investigating the effects of massage therapy on the adjustment of rest to activity, as well as melatonin secretion rhythms in full-term infants, found massage therapy enhanced coordination of the circadian system.