Mental health technology company, Medibio, recently released statistics on how mental health impacted on workers across Australia. Over 10 years ago, around one in five Australians suffered from mental illness in one form or another. In 2018, Medibio’s survey revealed a third of workers suffered from depression, stress, or anxiety. This is costing the nation around $12 billion dollars, and only 17% of those suffering sought any form of help or treatment.
For some, the perceived stigma of mental health issues means they also do not feel comfortable disclosing their illness to their direct managers. They may also not be comfortable with the prescribed medication that general practitioners can use to treat a range of mental health conditions. Understanding their condition, and being able to discuss a range of support and treatment is very important, as it puts those with mental health issues in control of what happens next. This is where chiropractic care can help, even though people may associate this with just the treatment of physical pain management for example.
Cause of stress, depression and anxiety
Stress and anxiety are factors experienced by all of us at some time or another. As human beings, we have evolved and survived due to our ability to assess risky situations, and to take evasive action to remove ourselves from these situations particularly when we feel threatened. Stress and the physical manifestation of stress, raised heart levels, shallow breathing, palpitations etc. get the blood pumping around the body, so stress is a response to a threat.
Stress therefore keeps the body and mind alert whether it is in response to physical harm (being able to move quickly out of danger), or gearing up to deal with a work deadline, or win a race or event in a sports competition. The reaction to the stress is anxiety, and persistent and chronic stress can lead to depression.
If the body is in a constant state of stress, there will be elevated levels of hormones in the system. Usually, these are shut off after the danger has passed. If the chemical system that regulates this is working normally, it regulates our sleep patterns, appetites, and energy levels. If it is not working properly, then we exhibit poor eating patterns, have interrupted or little sleep, our energy levels fall, and this can lead to depression.
How can chiropractic care help?
Chiropractic care focuses on the whole person and the body relating to the nervous system, in particular the spine. A chiropractor will use gentle manipulations of the spine and neck to realign these areas and relieve any pressure on the nerves. As pressure is removed from the spinal column, all the signals from the brain to the body can then reach the intended destination. This also helps return the flexibility to the body, to loosen muscles and have the ability to move and exercise, which is one of the best treatments for supporting and retaining good mental health.
By removing any blockages to the nerves, a chiropractor also promotes the healthy and natural flow of nutrients and blood around the body. This in turn aids the immune system and boosts its performance, which is particularly important when people are feeling tired and run down (which happens when their mental health is poor). If the body is better equipped to fight off illnesses, and the central nervous system is functioning as it should, this will reduce stress placed on the individual.
The physical side effects of stress such as tension headaches, tight muscles around the shoulders, back and neck can also be addressed. Painkillers and medication may alleviate the problem in the short term, but chronic pain can cause depression. Constant pain to the back, neck and shoulders is very debilitating, so chiropractic care can ease the pain which in turn will help promote positive mental wellbeing.
Affecting positive mental health and well being
Part of this holistic treatment is to review the individual’s lifestyle, make recommendations based on gentle exercise and healthy diet choices. Exercise has always been seen as a good method of promoting positive mental health, and chiropractic care encompasses gentle exercise such as breathing and stretching techniques. Once these become a habit with the individual to get up and go out for a short walk or, if subject to a panic attack, to focus on some breathing techniques, it puts control over their illness firmly back in the hands of the patient.
Having someone review dietary choices and give advice around a modified diet will ensure that the individual is getting the correct nutritional intake needed to stay healthy. Combined with restoring normal hormonal balance to the central nervous system, it helps reduce the symptoms of mental health. This will empower the person to manage their own wellbeing, and maintain a balanced approach to good mental health.
All in all, this has to be a win-win situation.
About the author
Dr. Clarence Ho is a chiropractor, and owner of Adaptive Chiropractic, Adaptive Chiropractic CBD andAdaptive Myotherapy in Melbourne, Australia. He has been working with patients from all walks of life with various issues. Mental health issues related to stress is one of them. He has successfully helped many of his patients achieve a more optimum level of health through chiropractic care.