People suffering from anxiety or depressive disorders may have a lot of things on their minds, but their neck probably isn’t one of them. When mood disorders become too much to bear, most people head to the doctor's office, only to leave with a prescription for a medication that could come with harmful side effects. While these medications may help mask the symptoms that are being suffered, they do nothing to address the underlying cause of the problem.
At Atlas Specific, we can provide natural relief from depression and anxiety by treating a common root cause—a misalignment of the uppermost spinal bones (vertebrae) in the neck. Read on to learn more.
What is Depression?
Depression is a medical condition associated with feelings such as melancholy, loss of pleasure, loss of energy, difficulty concentrating, and suicidal thoughts. It is considered a mind-brain disorder because it affects both the brain and the state of mind. The umbrella term of depression encompasses Major Depressive Disorder and its related mood disorders, including bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome, and generalized anxiety disorder.
There are some differences between the various forms of depression. Each form will have some of its own specific symptoms, but most major depressive disorders are characterized by the following:
Changes in appetite, eating more or less than normal
Fatigue and low energy
Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness
Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
Oversleeping or undersleeping
Psychosomatic symptoms, such as a headache, stomach problems
Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
Thoughts of death or suicidal thoughts
What is Anxiety?
Simply put, anxiety is an intense, excessive, and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. But physiologically, it’s much more than that—anxiety, whether acute or long-term, triggers the body’s automatic fight-or-flight response, calling the HPA axis into action. The Hypothalamus Pituitary Adrenal axis, more commonly called the HPA axis, is the interaction between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands that manage our stress response.
This response is based on survival instincts honed at the dawn of the human race. Unfortunately, while your brain knows the difference, your body can’t distinguish between the stress of meeting a work deadline and the stress of running from a burning building, and the HPA axis response is the same in either situation. A cocktail of stress hormones—cortisol and epinephrine (adrenaline) floods your bloodstream, causing several things to occur in the body:
Digestive function becomes limited
Heart rate increases, pushing blood to the muscles
Airways become dilated to increase oxygen intake
Senses of sight, smell, and sound become heightened
Glucose increases the bloodstream
In an emergency situation, all of this is designed to give us the strength and focus to react quickly to threats. However, when we face long-term anxiety, the HPA axis stays activated, keeping those stress hormones pumping through our system, decreasing the effectiveness of other body functions, and leaving us in a chronic state of hypervigilance that can wear our body down.
How the Upper Cervical Spine Affects Depression and Anxiety
As mind-brain disorders, depression, and anxiety can have many different causes, from genetic factors to severe life stressors. But, one of the more overlooked causes of mood disorders can be found in the upper cervical spine. This area at the top of the neck houses most of the body’s reflex centers, the spinal cord, and the brainstem.
Poorly aligned vertebrae in the upper cervical spine, specifically the atlas (C1) and the axis (C2), can pressure and irritate the brainstem and the spinal cord and cause nerve impairment, leading to depression and anxiety issues.
The atlas is the most vulnerable bone in your body, and it can lose correct alignment with the most minor of bumps or falls. It can even be shifted when stress causes neck tension for extended periods of time. Misalignment, or subluxations in this area can negatively affect the spinal cord and brain in three main ways:
The brainstem affects and manages the entire nervous system of the body. When it is not aligned correctly, nervous function in the body can be impaired, resulting in anxiety issues.
Poor upper cervical alignment can prevent proper blood flow and drainage from the brain. Impaired blood drainage can contribute to anxiety, depression, and more.
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flows to the brain through the upper cervical spine. When CSF is insufficient, vital nutrients and electrolytes don’t reach the brain. Consequently, the brain cannot function at full capacity. Anxiety is one of the many possible results of a brain lacking proper CSF flow.
How Upper Cervical Treatment Helps With Depression and Anxiety
It’s important to note that anxiety and depression are complex conditions with varying root causes. Before we begin adjusting the upper cervical spine, we must determine whether a prospective patient has a vertebral misalignment (subluxation) in their upper cervical spine. During your free consultation, we will discuss the varying factors contributing to your health concerns. On your first visit, we’ll use state-of-the-art imaging to determine if there is a subluxation to be corrected.
If a subluxation is found, we work with our patients to correct the misalignment, restoring the body’s natural healing mechanisms to improve mood and over-optimal health. Our gentle, non-invasive, drug-free treatments can offer lasting change for patients suffering from mood, depression, and anxiety disorders.
If you’re interested in learning how Dr. Tim and the Atlas Specific team can help you find lasting relief from anxiety and depression, contact us today by dropping by our office at 1800 E 3rd Ave #108 in Durango, calling us at 970 – 259 – 6803, or clicking the link below to schedule a free consultation.
Notice of Disclaimer:
We are doctors of upper cervical chiropractic, but NOT necessarily YOUR doctors. All content and information on this website are for informational and educational purposes only, do not constitute medical advice, and reading or interacting with this site does not establish any form of the patient-doctor relationship. Although we strive to provide accurate information, the information presented here is not intended as a substitute for any kind of professional advice, and you should not rely solely on this information. Always consult a professional in your particular area of need before making medical decisions.