Massage therapy, along with yoga and meditation, are among several forms of complementary medicine that can be used alongside mainstream treatments for bipolar disorder.

How It Fits Into Your Treatment

There is evidence for massage's usefulness in calming anxiety and stress. Some experts believe stress can worsen bipolar disorder and the symptoms of the condition can cause a good deal of strain on their own.

Massage is not considered a mainstream treatment, but it can be a valuable contribution to the overall treatment of bipolar disorder.

How Massage Works

There are a number of types of massage, but, in general, they involve a trained therapist using hands and parts of the arms to apply pressure to, knead, or otherwise manipulate muscles and other tissues. One of the variations is intensity of the pressure applied by the therapist and another is how the patient is positioned. Some times they are on a table, other times in a chair.

Who Can Take It

Massage is another therapy option that is pretty accessible, but some conditions might require a discussion with your doctor before using this treatment.

According to the Mayo Clinic, these can include:

  • unexplained pain or other symptoms
  • burns or open wounds
  • cancer
  • blood clots
  • fractures
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • severe osteoporosis
  • pregnancy

Side Effects

The Mayo Clinic warns that massage patients might expect some soreness when having some sorts of massage, although this therapy is not meant to be uncomfortable.

There are some rare problems that can arise:

  • internal bleeding
  • nerve damage
  • temporary paralysis
  • allergic reactions to massage oils or lotions


This therapy is generally performed through licensed professionals, and is becoming a common option alongside more mainstream treatments.


Massage involves the physical working of muscles and soft tissues using the hands and arms.

This therapy is considered complementary to more conventional treatments, and evidence has shown it can help reduce stress and anxiety.

What The Experts Say

“Massage therapy would be highly inappropriate in a bipolar patient who is unstable,” says Dr. Soroya Bacchus, a psychiatrist who practices in California. “During a manic episode, patients are often sexually aggressive and make decisions that are often irrational and inappropriate. The sexually charged atmosphere which exists between a man and a woman during a massage can lead to a terrible outcome for a patient in a manic episode.

“Once the patient is fully stabilized, massage therapy can be effective in calming the individual and providing a stress-free (trigger-free) environment in which they can relax and clear their mind.”