Many people only think of going to the chiropractor if their back or neck is sore. In reality, chiropractic has helped millions of people suffering from other ailments, including depression. 16.2 million U.S. adults suffer from depression according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). That’s 6.7% of our adult population! Let’s take a closer look at the way your body works to understand how upper cervical chiropractic care may help alleviate symptoms of depression.
First of all, your spine houses an important part of the nervous system which is the body’s super highway of information with the brain stem being the central hub. Your brain stem is in close proximity to the upper cervical spine, sitting at the base of the skull near the top two vertebrae of your neck. Your nervous system controls your physical, mental and emotional health. In fact, Guyton’s Physiology states that the brain stem must have constant communication with the brain or the brain becomes useless.
Your brain stem regulates and controls your brain’s chemistry and most all of the vital functions within the body. Spinal fluid and blood must flow through the area in order for your brain, brain stem and spinal cord to function properly. Studies have shown that when someone is depressed there are areas of the brain that show less activity and actually a decrease in size, and other areas that become more active.
For example, the area of the brain that processes negative emotions such as anxiety, fear and panic is most active in those people with depression and anxiety. The more that area of your brain is stimulated, the more those negative emotions are felt by the person. Your body first collects information from your senses such as sight, smell, touch, sound, and sends it to your brainstem, which then sends it to be processed by the brain. If you are in a safe environment, your senses should be telling your brain to trigger the appropriate emotions for the environment, which would be a sense of calm. However, if one of the top two bones in the neck are misaligned, it can place pressure on the brain stem or the nerves going to the brain stem, irritating those nerves and distorting the information they carry. This gives your brain incorrect information, which is where problems can begin. When the information from your environment is distorted by pressure on the nerves, the brain can be overstimulated. Negative emotions that don’t fit with the current environment or situation, can cause a “fight or flight” stress reaction when none is necessary. The response may be trouble sleeping, poor digestion, increased heart rate, and rapid blinking. . . basically all of the symptoms of anxiety!
This explains why depression is often diagnosed in patients with whiplash, head injuries, or even mild concussions. New studies have shown improvement in depression test scores for patients who have undergone upper cervical chiropractic. And we see this in our offices every day. This is becoming more apparent as research has shown the negative and long lasting effects concussions are having on NFL football players.
Jen is a patient that had been in a car accident two-years prior to her first visit to our office. She had experienced neck and shoulder pain since. On further discussion, she mentioned that she had been diagnosed with depression, and was currently considering medication. She did not have a history of depression prior to the accident, and it did not seem to run in her family. As she began upper cervical care, she noticed her “brain fog” and depression symptoms improved drastically. Today, she is fully engaged again in her life, and credits upper cervical care for her physical and mental recovery.
As upper cervical chiropractors, we are highly educated and trained to identify and correct head and neck misalignments and nerve interference. By gently correcting the top two bones in the neck, we give your body’s nerve system the chance to heal and make corrections for better physical, emotional and mental health.
A free, non-invasive upper cervical examination could determine whether or not this correction is the answer to alleviate your depression symptoms. Call today for your free consultation with Drs. Thad and Nikki Vuagniaux at Upper Cervical Care, Glen Carbon IL, 618-692-6992.