Chiropractic care helps alleviate more than physical aches and pains. It can reduce anxiety and depression, too. Although prescription medications, including antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs, taken in combination with psychotherapy is a traditional way of helping individuals to deal with symptoms of depression, chiropractic is an alternative method to consider.
Chiropractic Methods of Treatment
For some people, chronic pain leads to depression; however, chiropractic adjustments and other chiropractic treatments to decrease chronic pain can help reduce depression. Poor diet, lack of adequate physical activity, sleep problems, and tight muscles are other factors that contribute to pain that may then lead to anxiety and depression. Chiropractic care can help with these problems as well.
A chiropractor can help by making dietary recommendations, which may include nutritional supplements. Dietary advice often focuses on losing fat and gaining muscle to improve your body composition and overall health. Nutritional counseling may also center on getting more antioxidants in your diet or foods and supplements to reduce inflammation that can contribute to chronic pain and the depression that may follow.
Another problem is that your mood can influence what and how much you eat. If you're depressed, you may crave comfort foods that are high in sugar and fat, leading to weight gain. Low energy and poor sleep can make you feel even worse. A chiropractor can suggest lifestyle changes, including weight loss, that can help improve your mood and decrease symptoms of depression.
Chiropractors can also prescribe exercise as part of fitness counseling. Spinal manipulation along with an exercise program may be an effective pain management treatment for you. Exercise helps increase your energy level, improve the quality of your sleep, and reduce symptoms of depression by releasing chemicals in the brain that make you feel good.
According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), massage therapy can help reduce anxiety symptoms by decreasing levels of the stress hormone cortisol. High levels of cortisol in the bloodstream, especially for prolonged periods of time, can lead to chronic stress.
Massage therapy also increase levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, both of which can help alleviate stress, lower anxiety, and reduce depression. Dopamine and serotonin are key chemicals in your brain that transmit nerve impulses. Since brain chemistry influences your emotions, similar to medications that help balance brain chemistry, massage therapy helps stimulate hormones that control mood.
Chiropractic adjustments and manipulation — particularly to the upper cervical spine — help the nervous system function better. Misalignment of vertebrae in the spine can cause pressure on the spinal cord, which may interfere with the conduction of nerve signals. When blood flow is restricted, nerve damage can occur.
Pain in the lower back caused by inflammation can also restrict blood flow. Spinal adjustments remove pressure from nerves, increasing blood circulation to the extremities and other areas of the body.
Decreased blood flow to the frontal region of the brain may affect mental health. Research suggests that individuals with depression have decreased cerebral blood flow in frontal, limbic, and subcortical regions of the brain — areas of the brain that play a role in controlling emotions.
Chiropractic Care for Better Sleep
If chronic pain or anxiety keeps you awake at night, chiropractic treatment can help improve how you sleep. In addition to treating vertebrae in the spine that are out of alignment to alleviate pain and discomfort, a chiropractor may instruct you on the proper sleep position to prevent neck and lower back pain. A healthy sleep posture takes the pressure and strain off your neck and back while you sleep. Less pain can lead to better sleep. A restful night's sleep helps alleviate anxiety and symptoms of depression.
If anxiety and depression are interfering with your life, Progressive Chiropractic provides a variety of therapeutic services that not only help relieve pain but help you lead a healthier lifestyle and feel less depressed.