How Chiropractic Care May Ease Depression Symptoms: Insights from Scientific Research

Depression, a major global health concern, is often associated with an imbalance in the autonomic nervous system. Understanding the link between chiropractic care and its potential effects on depression can offer new avenues for holistic treatment. Here, we dive into the recent scientific research that explores how chiropractic interventions might ease depression symptoms.

Understanding the Autonomic Nervous System and Depression

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) regulates many of the body's unconscious functions, such as respiratory rate, heart rate and digestion. It is divided into two main components: the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The SNS is often referred to as the "fight or flight" system, which becomes over-activated in many individuals with depression, leading to symptoms such as:

  • high cortisol levels
  • increased adrenaline
  • insomnia
  • agitation
  • anxiety.
Human Central Nervous System with Brain Anatomy

Chiropractic Care and the Nervous System

Chiropractic care, particularly spinal manipulation, is known for its impact on the nervous system. Scientific research has shown that chiropractic interventions can influence the autonomic nervous system, helping to restore balance between the SNS and PNS.

Regulation of the Autonomic Nervous System: Chiropractic adjustments may help modulate the ANS by promoting PNS activity. This can counterbalance the overactive SNS observed in depression.

Vagal Parasympathetic Stimulation: The vagus nerve plays a critical role in the PNS and is involved in regulating mood and emotional well-being. Chiropractic care has been shown to stimulate the vagus nerve, leading to increased production of neurotrophins like brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and nerve growth factor (NGF), which are essential for brain health and anti-depressive therapies.

male physio therapist and woman helping patient

Potential Molecular Effects of Chiropractic Care

The molecular mechanisms behind chiropractic care's effects on depression are linked to its impact on the ANS. By stimulating the vagus nerve, chiropractic interventions can lead to the release of neurotrophins that support brain function and mood regulation.

These neurotrophins include:

Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF): BDNF is crucial for neuroplasticity, the brain's ability to adapt and reorganise itself. Higher levels of BDNF are associated with improved mood and cognitive function. Nerve Growth Factor (NGF): NGF supports the growth and maintenance of neurons, which are essential for emotional stability and healthy brain function.

Chiropractic Care as a Complementary Treatment for Depression

Given the potential benefits outlined by scientific research, chiropractic care can be considered a complementary treatment option for depression. It is important to note that while chiropractic care may help alleviate some symptoms of depression, it should not replace traditional medical treatments. Instead, it can be integrated into a comprehensive treatment plan that may include psychotherapy, medication, and lifestyle changes.

The link between chiropractic care and its potential effects on depression is a promising area of research. By regulating the autonomic nervous system and stimulating the vagus nerve, chiropractic interventions may offer a natural way to support mental health.

As with any treatment, it is essential to consult with healthcare professionals to determine the best approach for individual needs. Chiropractic care, alongside traditional therapies, might provide a holistic path towards easing depression symptoms and improving overall well-being.


This article is for general information only. Please seek personalised advice from your trusted health care professional.


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Neurobiological basis of chiropractic manipulative treatment of the spine in the care of major depression

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