Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Depression and Your Autonomic Nervous System

Not all disorders or illnesses can be seen by the human eye or even on diagnostic testing such as x-rays, ct scans, or MRI's.  These disorders aren't any less real than those that you can physically see or touch.  Depression affects an estimated 300 million people around the world.  It not only affects our mental health, but also our physical well-being.  Depression and other mood disorders can leave us feeling isolated, helpless, and emotionally drained with only hopes of medicine that can actually make these symptoms worse.  We need to make our mental health as much of a priority as our physical health!  Our autonomic nervous system (ANS) includes our sympathetic and parasympathetic systems.  See the picture below for some of the specifics of what our autonomic nervous system is in charge of (among many others).

Our ANS keeps our organs and glands functioning properly.  In regards to mental health, studies have shown that depression can be linked to increased inflammatory markers and autonomic nervous system dysregulation.  Autonomic activity is often measured through heart rate variability. Heart rate variability is a measurement of beat-to-beat fluctuations over a specified period of time.  Depression has been linked to decreased heart rate variability and activity of the vagus nerve.  According to a 2018 research article, a lower heart rate variability was linked to increased depression risk as well as a decrease in the nervous systems ability to adapt to stressors.  Through heart rate variability, we can learn about what is going on in our body in a non-invasive way.  Our body is giving us a signal that what it is dealing with internally is contributing to our physical and mental health symptoms.
Neurologically-based specific chiropractic adjustments work to free the autonomic nervous system of interferences that disrupt the regulation of organs as well as heart rate variability.  Adjustments also help to regulate vagus nerve function which plays an essential role in patients with depression.  We gain a better understanding of how to manage mental health issues when we take a closer look at the physical aspects of these mood disorders.  This allows for a fully integrated health care model to care for ourselves and others.

Yours in Health,

Dr. Nicholas J. Knutson



10917 Black Dog Ln., Suite 101 

Charlotte, NC 28214

Tel (704) 394-8556

Fax (704) 395-8556

"If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special." JV

Hu, M. X., Penninx, B.W., Geus, E. J. Lamers, F., Kuan, D.C. Wright, A.G., . . . (2018) Associations of immunometabolic risk factors with symptoms of depression and anxiety:The role of cardiac vagal activity. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 73, 493-503. doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2018.06.013

Huang, M., Shah, A., Su, S., Goldberg, J., Lampert, R.J., Levantsevych, O.M., . . . (2018) Association of Depressive Symptoms and Heart Rate Variability in Vietnam War-Era Twins. JAMA Psychiatry, 75(7), 705. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.0747