Being someone that approaches healthcare from a more conservative holistic approach it is hard not to be biased on this subject. To give you a little more background as to why this subject hits close to home for me is because I grew up being put on medication after medication for my developmental issues. Those meds led me down a path of marked depression, apathy, and augmented my anxiety to a level that left me closed off from society and imprisoned me in a vicious loop of introversion feeding into further depression and anxiety. I knew something was wrong, but it wasn’t until I went down a path of no medication that I was able to gain some traction on these things.
What was my and my patient’s magic medicine for depression and anxiety?
At this point, most have heard the famous quote from Hippocrates,
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
Well, this holds true to this day not just for me, but for a majority of the patients I have worked with. Food is one of the main things that can have a large impact on your mood. Without diving into too much depth basically, you have brain chemicals that your body is supposed to make in order for you to feel HAPPY, MOTIVATED, AFFECTION, ETC. Those brain chemicals require certain building blocks to be made. Food is how we get those building blocks. If you are not getting enough of a certain type of food, have problems with absorbing/digesting foods, etc. you will struggle on a constant basis to make these HAPPY brain chemicals.
Everybody in our clinic gets their chemistry and gut tested early on with treatment. Once that is done we customize a diet and possible supplements to help remedy their complaints, improve their mood, and augment their quality of life.
2. Brain Rehab
Once I got into chiropractic college I was fortunate enough to stumble upon functional neurology. This specialty not only helped me to understand the pathways involved with depression and anxiety better but also helped me find someone that could examine my nervous system to see what parts were contributing to my complaints. Depression and anxiety are involved with dozens of different regions of that brain that work as a cohesive network to allow you to be HAPPY.
My colleagues figured out the regions of my brain out of balance and gave me specific exercises to help balance it out and help me improve my mood slowly over time. This still holds true today. I am much better. However, if I ever hit a rough patch of events and need something to help center me again I can do my brain exercises.
One of our favorites and better-researched modalities is vagal stimulation. It is the bridge of communication between your Brain and all the organs involved in “Rest and Digest.” Most people know of this as your parasympathetic system.
3. Body Work
Anybody who has ever had a massage or any form of bodywork most likely knows how much more relaxed you feel following. When your body is in pain or retaining tension a lot of bad/negative chemistry and brain pathways become overactive. This can suppress your frontal lobes (Happy part of your brain) and also activate your amygdala (Anxiety part of your brain).
Having all my tissues in good and relaxed health is key to keeping that anxiety and depression bucket from filling up. It is one more tool you should take advantage of to help keep your mood feeling great. And just like with anything else I am not a fan of box protocols. You should have someone or multiple people assess your body and get used to working with it over time. This will allow them the opportunity to work through all the layers of tension, muscle spasm, fascial contraction/adhesions, joint fixations, alignment issues, etc over time.