According to the American Psychological Association, anxiety is an emotional state characterized by tension, nervousness, and worry. It may be accompanied by physical changes, such as muscle tightness and pain, elevated heart rate, fast respiration, and high blood pressure.
How Common Is Anxiety?
According to the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH), 40 million American adults, age 18 and older, will be impaired due to anxiety in any given year. This translates to approximately 18 percent of the U.S. population. Many of these people only have mild anxiety, but it can be crippling for others. Anxiety can range anywhere from mild nervousness up to full panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
What Are the Standard Treatments for Anxiety?
For anxiety that is mild and periodic, the best treatment really is reducing stress. Activities such as meditation or yoga can help center the mind and reduce the amount of anxiety a person experiences. For anxiety that impairs everyday activities, the two main treatments are pharmaceuticals and some sort of psychological counseling or therapy.
While psychological treatment may be useful for patients with anxiety disorders, pharmaceutical treatment comes with a whole host of side effects, ranging from mild to severe:
- upset stomach and nausea
- blurry vision
Chiropractic Adjustments as an Alternative Treatment for Anxiety
When the body holds tension, such as from anxiety or worry, it causes the muscles, tendons, and ligaments to tighten up. Much of this is then reflected in the spine shifting out of proper alignment in order to compensate. The end result is tightness and pain around the neck, shoulders, and lower back.
When the spine is manipulated into proper alignment, it releases all the tension and tightness held in the joints, muscles, and ligaments. Once that tension has been relieved, the patient should see a reduction in symptoms of anxiety. Regular spinal adjustments will then help keep the spine in proper alignment.
What Does the Research Say?
An article published in the December 1988 issue of the Journal of Manipulative and Physiologic Therapeutics looked at the effect of thoracic spinal manipulation on blood pressure and anxiety state in 21 patients with high blood pressure. Patients were randomly assigned to one of three groups: Spinal manipulation (active treatment), placebo, or no treatment (control group). The researchers measured anxiety levels and blood pressure before and after treatment.
Blood pressure significantly decreased in the active-treatment group, but not in the placebo or control groups. Anxiety was reduced in the active treatment and control groups, but not in the placebo groups. The researchers concluded that their findings appear to lend credence to the hypothesis that spinal adjustments can reduce both blood pressure and anxiety.
Chiropractic spinal adjustments can provide a safe, effective alternative to pharmaceutical treatment for anxiety. If part of a regular wellness regimen that also includes some form of yoga or meditation, patients will soon find that they are better equipped to deal with anxiety.
Contact Horst Chiropractic to schedule an appointment.