The two most common mental health disorders are anxiety and depression. Mental health disorders can affect people’s daily lives and make everyday things such as sleeping, eating, working, socializing, or looking after your family difficult. According to a recent survey of 34,000 people in the United States, almost 70% of them who had received chiropractic care reported that it improved their health and made them feel better1. Chiropractic care has been shown to enhance the healing and calming parasympathetic nervous system and to change processing within the prefrontal cortex. This may be why thousands of people who see chiropractors report that it helps them to relax, to feel less stressed, and why they just feel better.

You may be suffering from a mental health disorder yourself, or have in the past, or have a loved one or friend that is struggling with it now. Let’s explore what is known about mental health disorders and how chiropractic care may help.

You may be wondering how an adjustment to your spine can help with mental health problems. Well, over the past twenty years, scientists have been exploring how chiropractic care affects a person’s nervous system and they have found that chiropractic care undoubtedly changes the brain9, 10. And chiropractic, adjustments change a part of the brain called the pre-frontal cortex11. The prefrontal cortex is an area of the brain that is heavily involved in emotional control, and it influences our behaviors by dampening what is called the brain’s limbic system12. Now the brain’s limbic system is your emotional brain, your threat detector is there and it is always on high alert looking for dangers. And the prefrontal cortex calms down that limbic brain.

People with anxiety and depression have been found to have an overactive limbic system13 and a low- functioning pre-frontal cortex12. This is probably due to chronic stress because chronic stress shuts down the prefrontal cortex and boosts the limbic brain responses.

There is not yet a whole lot of research available that examines the effects of chiropractic care, or other manual therapies for anxiety or depressive disorders, or other mental health disorders. However, the research that does exist is promising and it is growing. One study published in 201620 by a group of researchers in Spain looked at the effects of two different forms of manual therapy on the symptoms of anxiety and depression in people with tension-type headaches. In this study, 84 people were split into two groups, one group only received soft tissue massage of the base of their skull only, and another group received adjustments to their upper neck. The participants received this care for 4 weeks. And the researchers reported that the group that received the adjustments to the upper neck had the greatest improvement in their anxiety and depression symptoms.

This study provides some evidence that chiropractic care may be beneficial for people suffering from anxiety or depression. Obviously, we need more research to know for sure whether chiropractic care can help people with different kinds of mental health disorders and to better understand why so many thousands of people who do see chiropractors feel better, relax more, and feel less stressed when under chiropractic care. 1

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  2. Dattani, S., Ritchie, H., Roser, H (2021) Mental Health. Published online at Retrieved from
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