On the surface, depression might just look like a simple condition to fix for those who haven’t experienced it. However, it is a case that won’t be solved by just simple words like ‘get over it’ or ‘be more positive’, or ‘stop-feeling-so-sorry-for-yourself’. Depression, in reality, is a tough condition that can actually be as equally devastating as any mental illnesses out there.
According to the World Health Organization, depression is a big challenge and currently the leading cause of ill health worldwide. Not only does it cause mental suffering, but it also can possibly distort a person’s thoughts, behaviour, feelings, and sense of well-being, to a point that the person themself is mentally and socially unable to carry out even the simplest everyday tasks.
In New Zealand alone, about 14.3% of adults (which is about more than half a million people) had been diagnosed with depression. Depression rates were significantly higher amongst women than men, with 17.9% of women compared with 10.4% of men. The highest rates were amongst women aged 35 – 44 years, which is 21% of the whole population of women who are diagnosed with depression.
Take note, these statistics are just for the officially diagnosed. In truth, many more people struggle with it everyday. Anyone can be a target and all of us can experience this at some point in our lives. Fortunately, depression can be prevented, reduced and it is also something that people can recover from. Recent studies show that a lot of things can be done to fight depression and improve mental health from the inside out— going out in the sun, exercising, eating healthy foods and the most important thing of all, having a GOOD POSTURE.
GOOD POSTURE, POSITIVE ENERGY AND HEALTH
Straightening your back is one of the simplest tricks you can apply for an instant mood lift. If you feel down, try sitting or standing up straight just like your grandma always tell you. It may sound too simple to be true, but this research shows that adopting an upright seated posture in the face of stress can maintain self-esteem, reduce negative mood, and increase positive mood compared to a slumped posture.
When a person sits or stands in a straight position, the body reads it as a ‘powerful’ and ‘strong’ signal which makes a positive effect on a person’s mental health. On the other hand, slouching or any collapsed, unnatural positions is considered as weak and negative. Not only it is bad for you physically, but if you sit in this “weak” position, your brain is going to believe that you are weak, have less energy and likely to feel more negative emotions.
To support this idea, a local study conducted in 2014 examined the effects of posture on mood for 74 individuals in New Zealand. Researchers studied what effect slumped or straightened posture had on the mental health of participants. Their blood pressure and heart rates were measured as they completed a series of tests designed to assess their mood, self-esteem and stress levels.
The participants were assigned a posture position and taped there, to prevent them from moving while doing a series of ‘stressful’ tests. According to the study, Being in an upright position showed all kinds of benefits. Study authors wrote, “The upright participants reported feeling more enthusiastic, excited, and strong, while the slumped participants reported feeling more fearful, hostile, nervous, quiet, still, passive, dull, sleepy, and sluggish.” Good posture was also associated with higher self-esteem, less social fear and fewer negative emotions. That’s not all– they also had stronger pulse responses than their slumped friends.
So what is the importance of this? Looking at the results, both studies concluded that an individual’s energy level and mental health could improve or deteriorate depending on posture. This indicates that the mind-body relationship goes both ways— the mind can influence the body and the body can influence the mind. If you let poor posture negatively affect your mind, your body will end up having less energy—and less energy can lead to more depressive thinking. It can be a vicious cycle, and if you want to break the cycle, it can’t hurt to stand up straight. Good posture can be a simple yet effective strategy to help people change their emotional state.
WHERE DOES CHIROPRACTIC PLAY ITS PART?
Some people that suffer from depression get frustrated when they get bombarded with medication every time they go to the doctor. This is because many of the most prescribed drugs for depression can cause uncomfortable side effects when taken. If you or someone you know falls in this category, then Chiropractic may be worth considering. Chiropractic care is known to be a non-invasive and natural alternative method that has been shown to ease depression symptoms in some studies[5,6,7].
If you are unsure what is causing your symptoms, a chiropractic doctor is still an excellent person to consult. The chiropractor will give a thorough spinal examination and will determine places within the spine that could benefit from a spinal adjustment. Once the chiropractor has identified a problem area, symptoms can often be alleviated after one or a series of adjustments depending on the case.
For those with depression, adjustments to certain parts of the body can relax the muscles and will allow blood and nerve impulses to flow more freely to the brain. This can give the patient instant stress relief. In addition, regular adjustments may help keep patients free of the impairments to regular exercise, which is an essential key to reducing stress and preventing stress-related anxiety and depression. Most importantly, if the depressed patient has a noticeable postural imbalance, (which was mentioned earlier to have a direct, negative effect on the body’s’ nervous system and spine), a chiropractor can help you correct poor posture such as slouching and forward head posture by realigning your spine through adjustments. So while a chiropractor is NOT treating mental health conditions, they can improve your posture and physiology, allowing better function of the body, and therefore, mood change.
If you or someone you care about is suffering with depression and would like some help in improving posture, you can talk to us by booking an appointment with your preferred office. Call our numbers or make an online booking (details below the page) and we will get you connected with our excellent team of chiropractors. Our team provide top-notch services including: spinal x-rays, chiropractic care, pain management, postural exercises, and nutritional counseling. Contact us today to find out how we can help your health concerns.
References  World Health Organization Website, http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs369/en/  Mental Health Foundation: Quick Facts and Stats. New Zealand Mental Health Foundation, 2014. Download PDF  Peper E., Lin IM. Increase or decrease depression: How body postures influence your energy level. Biofeedback. 2012; 40(3): 125-130.  Nair, Shwetha; Sagar, Mark; Sollers III, John; Consedine, Nathan; Broadbent, Elizabeth. Do slumped and upright postures affect stress responses?:A randomized trial. Health Psychology, Vol 34(6), Jun 2015, 632-641. Chiropractic Care Eases Severe Depression. Press Release, SpineWave. February 2009. http://www.scoop.co.nz We are a family practice situated in the suburbs of Glenfield, Takapuna, Riverhead and Orewa. Contact us today to find out how we can help your health concerns.  Genthner GC, Friedman HL, Studley CF. Improvement in depression following reduction of upper cervical vertebral subluxation using orthospinology technique. Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research, November 7, 2005.  Roth L. (PsyD 1), Zelman D. (PhD2), Clum, L. (DC3), Roth J. (DC4) Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care as a Complementary Strategy for Depression and Anxiety: A Prospective Case Series Analysis. Journal of Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research. June 20, 2013, Pages 49-59. Download PDF