Anxiety and depression are common mental health conditions that affect millions of people worldwide. It’s common knowledge that these conditions can cause a variety of emotional symptoms, such as panic attacks, chronic stress, loneliness, intrusive thoughts and fears. So how can chiropractic help with anxiety and depression? Isn’t chiropractic care for physical ailments?
What some people may not realize is that anxiety and depression can also cause a wide range of physical symptoms—this is the mind-body connection at work. Some examples of symptoms include muscle tension, high blood pressure, weight gain, weight loss, heart palpitations, headaches, stomach pain and more.
While traditional treatments such as therapy and medication can be effective for many of the emotional symptoms, many individuals with anxiety and depression are using a holistic approach, turning to alternative therapies such as chiropractic care to manage their physical symptoms.
In this article, we will explore 17 ways chiropractic care can help with anxiety and depression:
- How can chiropractic help with anxiety and depression?
- Definition of anxiety and depression disorders
- Prevalence of anxiety and depression disorders
- The role of chiropractic care in mental health
- Reduction of tension headaches:
- Reduction of muscle tension:
- The central nervous system:
- The autonomic nervous system:
- Increase blood flow:
- Improvement of sleep patterns:
- Reduction of blood pressure:
- Reduction of chronic stress:
- Relieve chronic pain:
- Reduce inflammation:
- Incorporating other therapeutic modalities
- Facilitation of the body’s natural healing abilities:
- Promotion of overall health:
- Promotion of positive hormones
- Mind-Body Approach to Anxiety and Depression
- Improvement of Quality of Life
- Reduction of the Need for Anti-Anxiety Medication
- Final words: Can chiropractic help with anxiety and depression?
How can chiropractic help with anxiety and depression?
Chiropractic care involves the manual manipulation of the spine and other musculoskeletal structures to promote overall health and relieve pain and discomfort. While this can help with the physical symptoms of mental illness, taking care of your physical pain can help relieve mental or emotional pain as well. Whether used alone or in conjunction with other treatments, chiropractic care can provide a natural, non-invasive approach to managing anxiety and depression while also improving overall well-being.
Definition of anxiety and depression disorders
Anxiety and depression disorders are common mental health conditions that can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. Anxiety disorders are characterized by excessive and persistent fear, worry and anxiety, while depression is characterized by feelings of sadness, hopelessness and disinterest in activities that used to bring joy or fulfillment.
Prevalence of anxiety and depression disorders
Anxiety and depression disorders are the most common mental health disorders in the United States, affecting millions of people each year. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults in the US. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 322 million people worldwide live with depression.
The role of chiropractic care in mental health
Regular chiropractic adjustments can play a role in managing mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. While chiropractic care directly treats physical pain, don’t overlook the fact that treating physical pain can improve quality of life, and trickle down to improve mental health symptoms as well. Here are 17 ways that chiropractic care can help anxiety and depression.
Reduction of tension headaches:
Chiropractors can specifically target the neck and upper back regions to improve spinal alignment and relieve tension in the muscles and joints of the neck. By reducing misalignments and restoring proper movement, chiropractic adjustments can alleviate the underlying mechanical stress contributing to tension headaches.
Poor posture, such as slouching or forward head posture, can contribute to tension headaches. Chiropractors can assess and correct postural imbalances, which may place unnecessary strain on the muscles and joints of the neck and upper back. By improving posture, chiropractic care can help reduce tension headaches associated with postural stress.
Reduction of muscle tension:
Chiropractic adjustments can relieve muscle tension, a common physical symptom associated with anxiety and depression, promoting relaxation and reducing discomfort. Tension headaches, another common physical symptom of anxiety and depression, often result from muscle tension and tightness in the neck, shoulders, and upper back; targeting muscle tension has a domino effect on other physical ailments.
Chiropractic care may include massage techniques, stretching exercises, and other soft tissue therapies to relax the muscles, release trigger points, and promote better blood flow. It’s as a simple as this: reducing pain improves quality of life, which sets a solid foundation to improve anxiety and depression.
the central nervous system:
Chiropractic adjustments can impact the central nervous system by improving communication between the brain and the body. This can have a positive effect on mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, as the central nervous system plays a crucial role in regulating emotions.
the autonomic nervous system:
The autonomic nervous system controls many of the body’s automatic functions, including heart rate and blood pressure. Chiropractic adjustments can have a positive impact on the autonomic nervous system by reducing sympathetic nervous system activity (which is associated with the “fight or flight” response) and increasing parasympathetic nervous system activity (which is associated with relaxation).
Chiropractic adjustments can improve blood flow throughout the body, which can have a positive effect on mental health. Increased blood flow provides essential nutrients, oxygen, and removing waste products from the brain, which can improve cognitive function and mood.
Here’s how increased blood flow can benefit mental health:
- Enhanced nutrient delivery: The brain requires a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients to function optimally. When blood flow increases, it ensures a more efficient delivery of these vital substances to the brain cells. Adequate nutrient supply supports healthy brain function, including neurotransmitter production and regulation, which are essential for maintaining mental well-being.
- Oxygenation: Increased blood flow brings a higher amount of oxygen to the brain. Oxygen is crucial for energy production and neuronal activity. Optimal oxygenation promotes alertness, cognitive function, and overall mental clarity. Insufficient oxygen supply to the brain can lead to cognitive decline and mood disturbances.
- Waste removal: Increased blood flow helps remove waste products and toxins from the brain. This process, known as clearance, is essential for maintaining a healthy brain environment. Accumulation of waste products can contribute to inflammation and oxidative stress, which are implicated in various mental health conditions. Improved blood flow facilitates waste removal, promoting brain health and reducing the risk of mental health issues.
- Neuroplasticity and neurogenesis: Increased blood flow supports neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to reorganize and form new neural connections. Neuroplasticity plays a crucial role in learning, memory, and adaptation. Additionally, increased blood flow can stimulate neurogenesis, the creation of new neurons in specific brain regions. These processes contribute to brain health and can positively influence mood, cognition, and overall mental well-being.
- Mood regulation: Optimal blood flow helps regulate neurotransmitters involved in mood regulation, such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters play a vital role in emotional well-being. Increased blood flow can support the balance of these neurotransmitters, potentially improving mood and reducing the risk of mood disorders.
Improvement of sleep patterns:
Sleep disturbances are are a common symptom of anxiety and depression. This can create a vicious cycle because lack of sleep can exacerbate anxiety and depression, and vice versa. Chiropractic adjustments can help improve sleep patterns by reducing pain and discomfort that can interfere with sleep.
Reduction of blood pressure:
Chiropractic adjustments has been shown to reduce blood pressure, which can have a positive effect on mental health. It’s not that high blood pressure causes mental health issues in a physiological way. It’s more that knowing you have high blood pressure can be scary.
High blood pressure is implicated in heart disease, which is a main cause of death globally. Simply living with the knowledge that you have high blood pressure is enough to cause significant stress and mental distress.
A study published in the International Journal of Mental Health Systems indicated: “Patients with chronic conditions like hypertension may experience many negative emotions which increase their risk for the development of mental health disorders particularly anxiety and depression.”
Reduction of chronic stress:
Chronic stress can exacerbate—or may even be the root cause of—symptoms of anxiety and depression. Those suffering with their mental health may enter a vicious cycle: Anxiety and depression impact daily life, causing chronic stress. Chronic stress makes anxiety and depression worse. It’s a tough cycle to break.
Chiropractic care can help reduce chronic stress by promoting relaxation and reducing muscle tension.
Relieve chronic pain:
Chronic pain refers to persistent pain that lasts for weeks, months, or even years. It can result from various conditions, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, or injuries. Chiropractic care aims to address the underlying causes of chronic pain by focusing on the spine and its impact on the nervous system.
Spinal adjustments can help alleviate pain by reducing pressure on the affected nerves, improving joint mobility, and promoting proper musculoskeletal alignment. By restoring proper spinal function, chiropractic care can reduce inflammation, muscle tension, and nerve irritation, which are common contributors to chronic pain.
Misalignments in the spine and other musculoskeletal imbalances can contribute to inflammation in the body. Inflammation is a natural response to injury or tissue damage, but chronic inflammation can impede the healing process.
Chiropractic adjustments can help restore proper alignment, reduce stress on the affected tissues, and decrease inflammation, allowing the body’s healing mechanisms to function more efficiently.
Incorporating other therapeutic modalities
It is not uncommon for chiropractors to incorporate other therapeutic modalities such as massage therapy, stretching exercises, and lifestyle recommendations to complement the chiropractic adjustments. These additional treatments amplify chiropractic benefits and can help reduce pain, improve flexibility, and enhance overall well-being.
Chiropractic care takes a holistic approach to health, considering the interplay between the body, mind, and lifestyle factors. Chiropractors may provide recommendations for exercise, nutrition, stress management, and other lifestyle modifications that can support the body’s natural healing abilities. By addressing various aspects of health, chiropractic care can enhance the overall healing process.
Facilitation of the body’s natural healing abilities:
Chiropractic adjustments can enhance the body’s ability to heal itself, helping individuals with anxiety and depression experience improved physical and mental health.
Chiropractors focus on the health and alignment of the spine, as it houses and protects the central nervous system. By performing spinal adjustments, chiropractors aim to correct misalignments (subluxations) and restore proper spinal alignment. This can help remove interference in the nervous system, allowing the body’s communication pathways to function optimally. When the nervous system is functioning properly, it can better coordinate the body’s healing responses.
The nervous system also plays a crucial role in regulating and coordinating the body’s healing processes. Chiropractic adjustments can improve nervous system function by reducing nerve irritation and promoting proper communication between the brain and the rest of the body. This enhanced nervous system function can support the body’s natural healing abilities.
promotion of overall health:
Anxiety and depression can be associated with poor overall health, especially when chronic pain is involved. Chronic pain can hinder physical activity and exercise, which creates a vicious cycle of poor health. Chiropractic care can help manage and reduce pain, improving mobility and allowing individuals to engage in physical activities that support overall physical and mental health.
More specifically, chiropractic adjustments can enhance joint mobility and flexibility, making it easier for individuals to engage in exercise and physical activities. Regular movement and exercise are essential for promoting overall physical and mental well-being.
Promotion of positive hormones
Chiropractic care has been shown to promote the production of positive hormones such as endorphins, dopamine, and oxytocin. These hormones are called “feel-good hormones” and can help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression while also promoting a sense of well-being and happiness.
- Endorphin release: Chiropractic adjustments have been associated with the release of endorphins, which are natural pain-relieving and mood-enhancing hormones. Endorphins act as natural analgesics, reducing pain perception and promoting feelings of relaxation and happiness. Chiropractic adjustments can stimulate the nervous system and trigger the release of endorphins, providing pain relief and a sense of well-being.
- Dopamine regulation: Chiropractic care has been shown to influence the dopamine system, which is involved in reward, motivation, and pleasure. Dopamine plays a vital role in mood regulation, and imbalances can contribute to symptoms of anxiety and depression. Research suggests that chiropractic adjustments can influence dopamine levels, helping to regulate mood and improve overall mental well-being.
- Oxytocin stimulation: Oxytocin, often referred to as the “love hormone,” is associated with social bonding, trust, and feelings of connection. Chiropractic care that involves gentle touch, massage, or soft tissue therapies can stimulate the release of oxytocin. This can promote relaxation, reduce stress, and foster a sense of emotional well-being.
Mind-Body Approach to Anxiety and Depression
Chiropractic care recognizes the close connection between the mind and body. By addressing spinal misalignments and improving nervous system function, chiropractic adjustments can positively influence the communication pathways between the brain and body. This improved mind-body connection can contribute to a more balanced hormonal response and support overall mental well-being.
Chiropractic care emphasizes the mind-body connection—meaning, the connection between physical health and mental health—and encourages individuals to focus on both aspects of their well-being. Other mind-body therapies such as meditation and deep breathing can be used in conjunction with chiropractic adjustments to promote relaxation and reduce stress.
Improvement of Quality of Life
Chiropractic care can improve quality of life for individuals with anxiety and depression by reducing physical symptoms and promoting overall well-being. This can result in improved relationships, increased productivity, and a greater sense of fulfillment in life.
By addressing physical symptoms and promoting overall well-being, chiropractic care can significantly improve an individual’s quality of life, allowing them to better cope with anxiety and depression.
Reduction of the Need for Anti-Anxiety Medication
Chiropractic care can help reduce the need for anti-anxiety medication by providing a natural, non-invasive approach to managing anxiety symptoms. For individuals who prefer to avoid medication or who are unable to tolerate its side effects, chiropractic care can be an effective alternative.
Chiropractic care can be used in conjunction with anti-anxiety medication to provide a comprehensive approach to managing anxiety symptoms. Chiropractic care can help reduce physical symptoms of anxiety, while medication can help manage emotional symptoms.
Final words: Can chiropractic help with anxiety and depression?
There is both anecdotal and scientific evidence demonstrating some the benefits that chiropractic care can provide for people with anxiety and depression. Benefits include relief of physical symptoms, improvement of sleep patterns and reduction of chronic stress.
While numerous studies suggest that chiropractic care can help manage anxiety and depression, more research is needed to fully understand the relationship between chiropractic care and mental health. Chiropractic care can be a valuable tool in managing anxiety and depression, and should be considered as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for these conditions.