Chiropractic Care and its Effects on Mental Health

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On average, 1 in 5 Americans experience mental illness with a total 43.8 million adults battling mental illness in a given year.1 Physical symptoms often accompany mental illnesses, sometimes even being the presenting symptoms.2 Symptoms often associated with mental illness are chronic joint pain, back pain, tiredness, sleep disturbance and headaches, all of which can be relieved through chiropractic care.2,3

 

The Effects of Adjustments on the Body

 

When the body cannot adapt to the stress it’s under it can lead to a subluxation. A subluxation is typically defined as a misalignment of the vertebrae of the spine.4 The nervous system runs from head to toe, using the spinal cord to relay messages between the brain and the body.5,6 One misaligned vertebrae can lead to a miscommunication that comprises nervous system function and in result, can affect mental health.7 Chiropractic care involves analyzing and correcting vertebral subluxations thus placing its patients on a more optimal physiological path.7

 

Physical pain and depression share a deep biological connection as pain and depression share a neurological pathway.8 The brain responds to painful physical stimuli with serotonin and norepinephrine, chemicals that also affect mood.8 A controlled study containing 30 individuals found that immediately after a chiropractic adjustment, significantly higher levels of neurotensin and oxytocin were observed.9 These findings are significant as neurotensin is known to regulate dopamine pathways and oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, triggers and modulates a full range of physiological functions and emotions such as happiness, attraction, love and affection while also counteracting the effects of the stress hormone cortisol.11 In essence, this study proved chiropractic adjustments can move your body into a parasympathetic state and decrease stress.

 

A less than desirable effect of mental illness is increased stress and muscle tension.12 Stress can cause your muscles to tense up but getting adjusted can help your body to relax. Studies have shown that after a chiropractic adjustment muscle activity was reduced by 25%!12 This kind of relaxation is ideal in helping individuals who have increased stress and muscle tension due to anxiety and depression.12

 

Headache Relief and Prevention

 

Recent studies have found that chiropractic care helps to reduce the frequency of pain as well as the duration and intensity of headaches.13 It has even been found that spinal manipulation is as helpful as medication in relation to migraine prevention.14 A case study involving a school teacher suffering from depression and chronic headaches reported that after 3 months of chiropractic care she was able to reduce the dosage of her medications.13 After 6 months of care, she was symptom free and able to discontinue all medications.13 Another study of 62 women who regularly suffer from tension headaches found that after just one month of chiropractic care, they showed improvement in bodily pain and social functioning.13

 

Sleep Well

 

Sleep problems are more likely to affect individuals suffering from mental illness than people in the general population.15 They are especially common in people with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and ADHD. Sleep problems affect more than 50% of adults with generalized anxiety disorder and 65%-90% of adults with depression.15 Sleep disruption affects levels of neurotransmitters and stress hormones, which in turn can impair thinking and emotional regulation.15 “While Chiropractors generally aren’t thought of as being experts on sleep issues, one-third of people who have a chiropractic adjustment report that they experience immediate sleep improvement.”16 Manual therapy, a treatment often utilized by chiropractors, has been shown throughout multiple studies to have positive outcomes on patients who suffer from insomnia.17 One thing we always recommend to our patients is the Proper Pillow. The Proper Pillow is specifically designed to promote proper alignment of the neck and spine to alleviate discomfort in the neck and promote a more restful sleep.

 

Exercise Daily...for your brain

 

Depression limits the ability of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, to facilitate communication in the brain.18 This makes it more difficult for the brain to work its way out of a depressing situation, locking it in a negative loop.18 Exercise promotes the production of proteins that help those neurotransmitters encourage communication in the brain.18 Exercise also increases the levels of endorphins in the body. Endorphins are feel-good brain chemicals that trigger positive feelings in the body.18 High endorphin levels improves mental energy, relieves tension and stress and overall makes you feel good.18 We are very passionate about our exercise program here at Carney Chiropractic Center. Every patient gets prescribed a unique list of therapeutic exercises by their third visit for them to do every day both in the office and at home. We update each patient’s exercises every 2-3 weeks as they grow stronger, and we see repeatedly the incredible effects moving your body can have on your overall health.

 

   

Mood Boosting Essential Oils

 

There’s a saying in the oily community that goes, “There’s an oil for that”, so it would make sense that essential oils are a great tool to relieve symptoms relating to mental illness. The tricky part is finding which oil works best with your body chemistry. Everyone reacts differently to oils, much like prescription drugs. They are the heart of the plant and incredibly powerful, although natural tools for wellness. Some types of lavender essential oil has balancing properties that calm the mind and body. It can help promote feelings of calm, fights nervous tension and be used as an aid to help you sleep. Another type of lavender can actually lead to nervous tension because it stimulates the nervous system. A study of 221 patients suffering from anxiety found that when ingested, Lavandula angustifolia can be used to help treat insomnia and to improve the quality of sleep without causing unwanted sedative or drug specific side effects.19 A study of 36 patients admitted in an intensive care unit found that those exposed to lavender aromatherapy reported an alleviation of anxiety and mood improvement.19 Another oil to have on hand when depression hits is bergamot. A study found that after 15 minutes of exposure to bergamot essential oil, participants reported improved positive feelings.20 At Carney Chiropractic Center, we use oils daily on patients. We are a Young Living Professional distributor, and you can purchase oils directly through our office without worrying about shipping costs. Some other favorites for happiness include Frankincense, Joy, Stress Away, Peace & Calming, Marjoram, and Inner Child.

 

We are living in stressful times! Six months of quarantine can make even the happiest of people feel down. We are here for you if you need us- give us a call or text at (410) 882-0720 to schedule an appointment, inquire about essential oils, get your exercise prescription refreshed or just to check in.

 

Sources

  1. National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2019) Retrieved From https://www.nami.org/NAMI/media/NAMI-Media/Infographics/GeneralMHFacts.pdf
  2. Trivedi, M.T. (2004) The Link Between Depression and Physical Symptoms. Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Retrieved Fromhttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC486942/
  3. Wells, B. (2019, February 21) Depression, Anxiety, Mental Health and Chiropractic Care. Retrieved From https://www.rtor.org/2019/02/21/mental-health-and-chiropractic-care/
  4. Cunningham, G. (n.d.) 3 Symptoms of a Spinal Subluxation. The Joint Chiropractic. Retrieved From https://www.thejoint.com/texas/austin/circle-c-28051/196961-3-symptoms-spinal-subluxation
  5. The Joint Chiropractic. (2015, June 22) Chiropractic Care and its Effect on Mental Health. Retrieved From https://www.thejoint.com/texas/north-richland-hills/north-richland-hills-28020/chiropractic-care-and-its-effect-on-mental-health
  6. Hynes, T. (2018, September) Spine Anatomy. Retrieved From https://mayfieldclinic.com/pe-anatspine.htm
  7. Kent, C. (2018, July 20) Chiropractic and Mental Health: History and Review of Putative Neurobiological Mechanisms. Journal of Surgery, Operative Techniques and Anesthesia. Retrieved From https://kosmospublishers.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Chiropractic-and-Mental-Health-History-and-Review-of-Putative-Neurobiological-Mechanisms.pdf
  8. Trivedi, M.T. (2004) The Link Between Depression and Physical Symptoms. Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 6(Suppl 1). Retrieved Fromhttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC486942/
  9. Plaza-Manzano, G., Molina-Ortega F., Lomas-Vega R., Martínez-Amat A., Achalandabaso A. & Hita-Contreras F. (2014, January 22) Changes in Biochemical Markers of Pain Perception and Stress Response After Spinal Manipulation. Journal of Orthopedic Sports Physical Therapy. Retrieved From https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24450367
  10. Shulkes, A. (2004) Neurotensin. Encyclopedia of Gastroenterology. Retrieved Fromhttps://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/neurotensin
  11. Magon, N & Kalra, S. (2011, September) The Orgasmic History of Oxytocin: Love Lust and Labor. Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism. Retrieved From https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3183515/
  12. Wells, B. (2019, February 21) Depression, Anxiety, Mental Health and Chiropractic Care. Retrieved From https://www.rtor.org/2019/02/21/mental-health-and-chiropractic-care/
  13. Chu, E., & Ng, M. (2018). Long-term Relief from Tension-type Headache and Major Depression Following Chiropractic Treatment. Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, 7(3), 629–631. Retrieved From https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6069670/
  14. Langevin, H., Shurtleff, D., Mudd, L, & Sabri, M. (2019, July) Spinal Manipulation: What You Need to Know. NIH. Retrieved From https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/spinal-manipulation-what-you-need-to-know
  15. Harvard Health Publishing. (2019, March 18) Sleep and Mental Health. Retrieved From https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/sleep-and-mental-health
  16. National Sleep Foundation. (n.d.) Chiropractic Sleep Relief. Retrieved From https://www.sleep.org/articles/chiropractic-sleep-relief/
  17. Kingston, J., Raggio, C., Spencer, K., Stalaker, K. & Tuchin, P. (2010, September) A Review of the Literature on Chiropractic and Insomnia. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine. Retrieved From https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1556370710000647
  18. Bird, C. (2019, January 29) Exercise for Depression and Anxiety. Retrieved From https://www.rtor.org/2019/01/29/exercise-for-depression-and-anxiety/
  19. Koulivand, P. H., Khaleghi Ghadiri, M., & Gorji, A. (2013, March 14). Lavender and the Nervous System. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Retrieved From https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3612440/
  20. Han, X., Gibson, J., Eggett, D.L. & Parker, T.L. (2017, March 24) Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) Essential Oil Inhalation Improves Positive Feelings in the Waiting Room of a Mental Health Treatment Center: A Pilot Study. Phytother Res. Retrieved From https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28337799/