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Posts for tag: depression

By Dr. Doug Williams
March 24, 2016
Tags: anxiety   depression  
Today's post is personal to me and likely to many of you, as well, either for yourself or a family member. Anxiety and depression are rampant in today's society. The shear volume of information coming at us through computers, phones, television, radio and billboards is enough to max out anyone's patience and mental reserves.  Add to that the effects of the standard American diet, side effects of prescription and over-the-counter drugs and the shear pace that life moves, and it is no wonder our brains want to climb out of our heads and run away!

Anxiety and depression are multi-factor conditions that have been linked to low levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers produced in your brain that stimulate your "happy place." Now, you may be wondering why a chiropractor is talking about anxiety and depression - isn't that what prescription drugs are for? There is definitely a place for medications to manage these conditions. However, after working with a number of people over the years who have taken these prescriptions, many of them admit that, while the prescriptions helped, they just "didn't quite feel like themselves" when taking them. This led me to search out 3 keys to unlocking anxiety & depression for our patients.
 
Key #1: Movement
Several years ago, while I was attending a conference, one of the speakers talked about a book called Spark by John Ratey M.D. a clinical psychologist at Harvard Medical School. In his book, Dr. Ratey explores the relationship between exercise and brain chemistry. He found that exercise increases the effectiveness and production of neurotransmitters, and went on to describe how exercise actually improves anxiety, depression, addiction, ADHD and more! While the book does compare different types of exercise to effects on brain chemistry, the overarching theme is that MOVEMENT is key to unlocking the grip of bad brain chemistry and the subsequent conditions related to it. All of your joints and muscles are hard-wired to your brain, and activating them will stimulate your brain and all related chemistry. This is why many people often have a sense of relief and well-being after getting a spinal adjustment. Getting up and getting movement will give you the same effect. You can find more articles on optimizing your brain health here.

Bottom Line: Get up and move more, and do it often!

Key #2: Sun Light.
Exposure to sunlight often gets a bad reputation because of skin cancer. However, sunlight increases the body's production of Vitamin D, which is related to serotonin levels. If you've read this far, you know that serotonin is related to brain chemistry and depression! This article on Web MD focuses on the relationship between sunlight and depression, specifically regarding SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), but the principle applies year-round. It has even been indicated that sunlight may be superior than medication, in some instances.
 
Bottom Line:  Aim for at least 20 minutes per day of sun exposure!

Key #3: Remember The Good Times
This one was a new one on me. Reflecting on good memories helps to increase the production of serotonin, while focusing on bad situations will actually decrease it. Recent breakthroughs in brain imaging (scans) has found that how and what we think about can actually alter our brain chemistry and, thus, our moods. While the science behind this is still very new, the wisdom has been around for a long time. The Bible in Colossians 3:2 encourages us to "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." Apparently, what is good for the soul is also good for the mind!
 
Bottom Line: When your thoughts are taking you down a dark road, reset and think about happier times and events!

In conclusion, anxiety and depression are complex and debilitating conditions, and may require medication and psychological management. But, for many of us who seem to cycle up and down without going down too deep, working on integrating the 3 keys listed above may help even out some of the bumps in the road. Like many of our recommendations, routinely working on these keys will have the best long-term benefit. So go ahead, take a walk outside and think about the good times!
 
Here's to your health!
Doug Williams, D.C.
Care Chiropractic, Lafayette