Talking and medication therapy have been the traditional methods of dealing with anxiety and depression. There is, however, an alternative practice that can help patients deal with mood disorders and anxiety: chiropractic.
What are Mood Disorders, Anxiety, and Depression?
While most people can feel sad from time to time, some can have actual mood disorders, such as depression. These affect daily life and relationships in a more severe and prolonged manner. Some depression can be seasonal, while other mood disorders can be triggered by traumatic or major life events. Women are more likely to have major depression.1 Anxiety can be a completely normal reaction to an event, but it becomes a disorder when symptoms last for more than 6 months. Untreated, anxiety can worsen. Anxiety disorders include panic disorders and phobias, as well as generalized anxiety.2
Anxiety and mood disorders have traditionally been treated in the medical and psychological communities with therapy as well as medications. Medications have been seen as a helpful adjunct to talk therapy. In other words, they can help manage some of the symptoms so that therapy can be more effective. Talk therapy can be individual or group in format. Prescription drugs can include antidepressants (SSRIs, tricyclics, MAOIs), anti-anxiety drugs (benzodiazepines), and beta-blockers (to control anxious symptoms). The pills can take many weeks to work, if they are effective for that particular patient. The side effects of these medications can be severe, such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, jitteriness, and sexual dysfunction. Some interactions can lead to “serotonin syndrome, which can cause confusion, hallucinations, increased sweating, muscle stiffness, seizures, changes in blood pressure or heart rhythm”. Some medications carry the risk of addiction and withdrawal.3
How Chiropractic Can Help
Some chiropractors feel that anxiety comes from an “out-of-shape mind and body”. There can be poor diet, sleep issues, little exercise, and other factors that contribute to this. Chronic anxiety can lead to a state of depression. To combat this, some chiropractors will suggest that patients improve their diet and supplement with necessary vitamins and nutrients (such as B12, calcium, magnesium, and potassium). A proper diet will balance hormones and help the brain function more optimally. Of course, it is often recommended that patients avoid caffeine and processed sugar. Chiropractic adjustments, alone or with massage, can help to maintain nervous system functioning. Adjustments can help the body’s electricity flow. In addition, patients should get proper sleep and engage in regular exercise. This will increase blood flow and oxygen to the body. Exercise (such as yoga and stretching) can help improve sleep. Also, patients should change their negative thought patterns.4 Chiropractic manipulation can affect the holistic well-being of patients. They can decrease chronic pain, increase blood flow, increase melatonin (which regulates the sleep/wake cycle), and improve endorphins (to manage pain). All of these benefits can help reduce a patient’s depression and anxiety.5