Millions of people all over the world struggle with mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Poor mental health not only affects emotional health, but it also presents itself through physical ailments such as low back pain, muscle tension, and headaches. While many traditional treatments seek to improve mental health, chiropractic care provides a mind-body approach that can ease both mental and physical symptoms. It may not seem like an obvious approach, but when considering holistic wellness, chiropractic care and mental health go hand-in-hand.
In this article, we’ll discuss how chiropractic care offers a natural alternative to improving mental health.
Understanding the Mind-Body Connection
The concept of the mind-body connection implies that physical illnesses can be caused and resolved by the interaction of psychological, social, and biological factors. In other words, as your mental health is affected by outside stressors that cause anxiety and depression, your body responds to your worsening mental health by developing various physical reactions. The most common physical signs of mental anxiety and depression include:
- Muscle tension or stiffness.
- The inability to relax or sleep.
- Headaches or migraines.
- Body aches.
- Shortness of breath.
- High blood pressure.
- Problems with digestion.
- Increased heart rate.
The longer a person remains in a state of mental stress or negativity, the more prolonged and worse their physical symptoms may become. If left untreated, these physical ailments will continue to worsen mental symptoms and will make it even harder for a person to overcome outside stressors on their own. When the body is injured, the autonomic nervous system will trigger an increased sympathetic response as a protective mechanism. As a part of evolution, we are hardwired to move into a heightened state of awareness and agitation when our bodies are hurt so that we have extra time to respond to threats. While this no longer serves us the way it used to, the stress response is also a way for the unconscious brain to force the conscious brain to take action and solve the problem—in this case, pain. In addition, the other part of the autonomic nervous system, the parasympathetics, which controls rest, digestion, and regeneration, is turned off, making it difficult to relax or get good sleep.
However, just as negative emotions can adversely affect the body, a positive change in emotions can help the body. This connection also works in reverse—treating physical symptoms can help improve a person’s mental health.
The Link Between Chiropractic Care and Mental Health
Chiropractic care and mental health relate to each other more than most people realize. Chiropractic care is especially suited to alleviate the physical symptoms associated with worsening anxiety and depression to improve a person’s mental health. Most people fail to realize their constant tension and muscle pain are contributing to a stressed mental state because they are so accustomed to it. This is why many people are unaware that treating subluxations, or misaligned spinal vertebrae, with chiropractic adjustments can have positive effects on their mood. This happens due to several reasons:
Improves Blood and Nutrient Flow
Chiropractic adjustments allow blood and nutrients to flow more freely throughout the body. This increased flow helps loosen muscles to decrease muscle tension and improve range of motion. This muscle relaxation effect eases mental anxiety and depression and creates a heightened state of mental clarity that helps ease the effects of stressors.
Releases “Feel Good” Hormones
Spinal misalignment disrupts the normal chemical balance in the body. Chiropractic adjustments counteract this by triggering an increased release in hormones like oxytocin, cortisol, and neurotensin. These hormones boost neuro-communication and feelings of social bonding, block pain associated with inflammation, and alleviate pain from stress.
Relieves Headache Pain
Many of those who struggle with poor mental health also suffer from severe headaches or migraines due to chronic muscle tension. Spinal adjustments significantly reduce muscle tension and decrease the number of headaches caused by the tension. Reducing these bouts of chronic pain allows those suffering from anxiety and depression to navigate their mental symptoms much easier.
Improves Sleeping Habits
Chiropractic care offers a natural alternative to improving sleep patterns. Chiropractic treatments relax the entire body, easing the muscle tension that frequently causes restlessness. This relaxation can help alleviate insomnia and fatigue. Since chiropractic treatments also stimulate blood flow and improve the central nervous system, they help decrease the likelihood of sleep apnea, which causes your breathing to repeatedly stop and start while sleeping.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Chiropractic treatments have been proven to reduce blood pressure, which is known to increase when struggling with anxiety or depression, and stress levels while increasing mental stability and resilience to outside stressors.
Chiropractic care works to relieve the physical manifestations of anxiety and depression. This provides both a physical and emotional release for those suffering from stress to help relax both the body and the mind for holistic well-being.
Using Chiropractic BioPhysics® for Long-Term Results
Many chiropractors tend to utilize joint mobilization, or adjustment, as the sole method for creating pain relief from physical symptoms. Chiropractic adjustments are a great quick fix, but they have been shown to provide only temporary results with limited long-term effects on the nervous system. While it’s important to relieve acute pain as quickly as possible, if the root of the problem isn’t solved, the physical and mental symptoms will inevitably return. Multiple recent studies show that restoring spinal curvature back to its natural optimal state lowers sympathetic response (fight or flight) in the body.
At PostureWorks, we focus on providing long-lasting physical and emotional relief by using Chiropractic BioPhysics® (CBP) to fix spinal misalignments and restore spinal flexibility so you no longer have to live with the chronic pain and imbalances that make it increasingly difficult to improve your mental well-being. By implementing postural exercise, neuro-muscular reeducation, and spinal alignment traction, we help the body heal itself physically and mentally to improve your quality of life. While we always recommend that you see a mental healthcare professional to help with anxiety and depression, we also encourage you to consider combining chiropractic care and mental health treatment for a multi-disciplinary approach that gives you the best shot at lasting relief.
Chiropractic BioPhysics®, or CBP, is a deeply researched and results-oriented corrective care technique. CBP-trained chiropractors aim to realign the spine back to health and optimal function while eliminating the source of pain and circulatory and nervous dysfunction. As with all chiropractic care, CBP is conservative, painless, and non-invasive. Contact us today to learn more about the connection between chiropractic care and mental health or to schedule a consultation and be one step closer to a pain-free life.