Some of the most significant benefits of massage are its ability to improve mood, ease symptoms of anxiety and depression, and create feelings of harmony within ourselves and with others. While the exact mechanism by which these phenomena happen remains largely unknown, researchers have observed that massage encourages the release of endorphins and increases mood-boosting neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine.[3. http://www.prevention.com/mind-body/natural-remedies/how-massage-helps-depression-and-anxiety] Massage therapy also augments the release of oxytocin, a remarkable hormone the promotes human bonding and floods our brains at pivotal moments in our lives, including childbirth and when we fall in love. However, even everyday physical touch can invite the oxytocin release, producing a host of psychological benefits such as decreased social inhibitions and fear, enhanced feelings of trust and well-being, and improved self-esteem, optimism, and empathy. Studies confirming that massage significantly increases oxytocin levels have led researchers to believe that massage can even “reduce morbidity and mortality” as the result of psychological distress.[4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23251939]
For people in addiction treatment, the emotional benefits of massage are twofold. First, massage can be a central component in the management of psychological disturbances related to withdrawal and the recovery process itself. Massage therapy can also alleviate distress caused by co-occurring mental health disorders that contribute to your addiction and may be used to treat both acute and chronic psychiatric symptoms, fortifying both your overall mental health and your recovery.