Anxiety is a common mental illness that millions of Americans struggle with every day. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders affect 19.1% of U.S. adults, with 31.1% of Americans estimated to develop an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives.
Those living with an anxiety disorder may have symptoms that worsen over time and can interfere with activities such as personal relationships, job performance, and school. Needless to say, anxiety can be hugely detrimental to one’s quality of life.
A commonly overlooked factor in many of these symptoms is spinal health, particularly spinal alignment. It’s mostly understood that spinal health plays a crucial role in physical health, but many may be unaware of how important it can be for mental health. This blog will explain the benefits of chiropractic care for anxiety as well as mental health and how it can prevent the development of long-term ailments.
Feeling anxious is a perfectly normal emotion that is a biological necessity as it is your body’s way of reacting to stress and warning you of potential danger. However, anxiety disorders differentiate themselves from anxiousness—similarly to how people can be depressed without having depression.
Anxiety disorders can cause persistent and overwhelming anxiety that can be debilitating. Some of the more common anxiety disorders are:
- Generalized anxiety disorder: The most common anxiety disorder, general anxiety disorder often causes individuals to feel an unrealistic sense of worry, dread, and hopelessness—often with very little stimuli.
- Social anxiety disorder: This form of anxiety disorder stems from an overwhelming sense of self-consciousness and paranoia in social situations.
- Panic disorder: Many people will experience a panic attack once in a while when bearing an overly stressful load. However, individuals with panic disorders may have repeated panic attacks which are overwhelming bouts of fear that lack a specific cause.
While the most prominent symptom of any anxiety disorder is a sense of doom and overwhelming danger, there is a slew of other physical symptoms that can affect more than just your mental health such as:
- Sleep problems
- Shortness of breath
- Dry mouth
- Tense muscles
Anxiety Doesn’t Cause Back Pain, But it Can Contribute
While anxiety doesn’t directly cause back pain, this combination of mental and physical symptoms can be mutually reinforcing contributors to secondary causes of back pain such as:
- Inactivity: Because anxiety disorders can be overwhelming, they can cause people to live a sedentary lifestyle. If anxiety is causing a reduction in someone’s activity level, they will likely be more susceptible to back pain.
- Hypersensitivity: Likely due to the emotion of anxiety being an active stress response, it can often heighten other senses. This means that individuals with an anxiety disorder may feel back pain more severely. This could also lead to symptoms associated with back pain spiraling further, worsening the pain.
- Poor posture: Due to anxiety disorders altering peoples’ behaviors, including the way they sit and sleep and vice versa, it is easy for muscle pain to develop in the back from staying in uncomfortable positions for extended periods.
Treatment Options for Back Pain
Thankfully, there are methods and treatments that can help individuals with anxiety and back pain alleviate symptoms. Most of these treatments are simple lifestyle changes that anyone can implement in some capacity.
- Stay physically active: Regular movement and exercise will keep you from being sedentary and developing posture problems or pain from extended periods of inactivity. Not only will physical activity help prevent back pain itself, but it can also help you cope with anxiety.
- Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs: The use of recreational drugs and alcohol can exacerbate symptoms of anxiety itself and potentially increase your likelihood of back pain. This includes commonly used substances such as marijuana and tobacco.
- Minimize caffeine intake: Because caffeine is a stimulant, it can often be a direct cause in the increase severity of mental symptoms associated with anxiety as well as the likelihood of panic attacks.
- Eat healthier: Watching what you eat could help mitigate some of the symptoms associated with anxiety. Regular intake of complex carbohydrates increases the serotonin levels in your brain. This can help level out the mood of people with anxiety. Be sure to incorporate things like whole grains, oatmeal, and quinoa when you can while lowering the amount of food and drinks you consume.
Lifestyle changes are important, but treatments that can eliminate symptoms can be better long-term solutions. The benefits of chiropractic care for anxiety cannot be understated because effective chiropractic care can help those with anxiety experience fewer symptoms and possibly better cope with anxiety.
Benefits of Chiropractic Care for Anxiety
First off, it’s important to note that chiropractic care is not a treatment for anxiety itself as it does not treat anxiety at the root. Instead, the benefits of chiropractic care for anxiety are in the alleviation of some of the aforementioned symptoms that can offer relief from symptoms that stem from anxiety and enhance the quality of life of individuals with anxiety disorders.
Some of these benefits include:
- Reduced stress response: Spinal misalignment alters autonomic nervous system function. One part of the nervous system is the sympathetic nervous system known as your flight-or-flight response. When spinal curvatures are realigned, the evidence shows that a person will have a lowered sympathetic response—also known as a lowered stress response.
- Lower blood pressure: Chiropractic care is known to lower blood pressure and studies have shown a direct link between anxiety and hypertension. This can also assist in mood stabilization.
- Relief from tension: Because chiropractic care can bring relief to the muscles surrounding the spine, it can improve not only the health of the spine but also your musculoskeletal health. Alleviating this tension can make it much easier to relax.
- Deeper sleep and reduced fatigue: Not getting enough sleep can make symptoms of anxiety much more severe and negatively impact your ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Chiropractic care can make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep so that you get a good night’s rest.
- Stimulates production of positive hormones: Chiropractic care promotes the release of “happy” hormones that are known to elevate moods and reduce stress such as serotonin, oxytocin, and reduced cortisol.
- Has no negative side effects: While many other treatments for the same symptoms can be effective, they may also come with a few unwanted side effects attached. However, because chiropractic care is a holistic treatment, you can rest assured that you won’t have to fret about potential adverse effects.
|The Bottom Line|
Chiropractic care cannot cure anxiety itself but it can drastically improve your quality of life by alleviating many symptoms associated with anxiety and making anxiety more manageable.
Combatting Anxiety with Chiropractic BioPhysics®
While chiropractic care offers many benefits for those living with anxiety, it can often be a short-term solution that will require return visits to maintain its effects. A better long-term solution would be something that can solve these issues and prevent them from reoccurring.
That’s why PostureWorks utilizes treatments that address the misalignment of the spine such as methods from Chiropractic BioPhysics®. CBP utilizes a non-invasive solution to spinal misalignment at the joints with an exercise plan to maintain the body in its new aligned posture.
This research-based strategy from a chiropractor with expertise in biophysics and the treatment of spinal misalignments comprises a thorough examination and a treatment plan that enhances neck and mid-back curvature as well as a forward-handling posture to calm the nervous system. As a result, you won’t just experience reduced pain and discomfort—you’ll also be less likely to experience the anxiety-related fight-or-flight response.
PostureWorks is committed to restoring your spine’s natural curvature and strength to assist you in combatting anxiety and stress.
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 benefits you’ll see when your spine is aligned correctly or to schedule your appointment.