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The Stress/Depression Connection


We all know that high amounts of stress are a part of our daily lives, but stress is exponentially increasing now during this time of the pandemic, quarantine, and social distancing. How can we not feel overwhelmed with all of our daily obligations, deadlines, and commitments, plus add a surreal situation on top of that? Political, financial, social, family, work, stressors on top of an already stressful and busy life. You can observe that we are also grieving the loss of the lives that we had pre-covid19, and more likely to exhibit one of the stages of grief: denial/isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance or vacillate between them at any given moment.

In the office, I ask people every day about the things they do to de-stress, especially now. Common activities that people seem to manage their stressors are: meditation, walking, journaling, vacationing (written in simpler, pre-covid times), being in nature, yoga, artistic or musical creative activities, working out, prayer, and deep breathing. A stressor is anything that we perceive as a stress; and it changes the way we act and our physical well-being. Family, home, and work are constant stressors if you let them be. Stressors could be juggling time to manage deadlines and schedules, physical disabilities or injuries, financial concerns and worries, contact with toxic fumes, foods, and people. They can be as small as a bad hair day, or as big as a death or illness of a loved one.


Constant stressors overwork your adrenal hormones and put added stress on other areas of your body, including the kidney, liver, brain, heart, muscles, immune system, and other hormones. The constant release of cortisol from your adrenal glands can do so much harm, and lead to many symptoms that may be seemingly unrelated, including diabetes, menopause symptoms, thyroidisms, auto-immune diseases, neurodegenerative diseases (senility, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's Disease), depression, and anxiety. Yogis teach that a key to a happy life is balance between activity and inactivity. That is often difficult to accomplish for some people who have that feeling that all of their time must be used constructively (this is you if you've ever described yourself as a "multi-tasker, type A personality, or adrenaline junkie).


On the other end of the activity spectrum are the folks who watch TV or play video games all day and night (do people describe you as a slacker, the person with the most potential, are you an adult living with your parents?). But all work and no play* can make {insert name} not only dull, as the saying goes, but possibly depressed as well. Symptoms of depression can often come about after a long winter or traumatic event. Sometimes it comes about when we are constantly "plugging" our energy into things that don't make us happy or we are constantly chasing the next thing that maybe will finally give us satisfaction.

*"All slack and no activity" could apply here as well


Depression can be characterized by many of the following symptoms:

  • Low mood accompanied by low self-esteem

  • Loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities

  • Disturbed sleep

  • Diminished or increased appetite

  • Loss of energy

  • Lethargy

  • Decreased or increased sex drive

  • Restlessness

  • Slowing down of thoughts

  • Difficulty concentrating, indecisiveness

  • Feelings of worthlessness

  • Guilt

  • Pessimistic thoughts

  • If a loved one asks you to get help (even if you don't think you have a problem)

  • Thoughts about dying or suicide

Here are a few key tips to help with stress:

  1. Exercise: the most common and effective relief for mild to moderate depression. Aerobic activity, such as walking, cycling, running, hiking, elliptical, step classes, zumba, or any other high intensity activity that increases the overall oxygen intake in your system is great. What is even better is anaerobic activity: using your muscles. Weight training 30 minutes a day, 4 days a week, is ideal for activating your muscles. This creates a pathway directly to your brain to decrease cortisol production. Cortisol increases stress and depression, so keeping it low is necessary for balanced adrenals and brain function.

  2. Eat a low glycemic diet: vegetables (anything green, red, purple, orange, or yellow), low glycemic fruits (berries), quality protein (beans, fish, poultry) and quality fats (coconut and extra virgin olive oils, avocados, and nuts). Eating empty carbs temporarily releases your feel-good neurotransmitter (serotonin), but in a few hours your blood sugar drops, and your adrenals have to secrete cortisol to get back to neutral. Remember high amounts of cortisol=bad for depression. So, stay away from rice, pastas, breads, pastries, even if it is made with whole wheat flour or is labeled gluten free. These foods will still raise your blood sugar and give you that temporary "food high". If you are craving comfort foods because you are feeling low, try instead a lean meat and vegetable meal, followed by a long walk and notice if your mood lifts. Craving carbs is a sign that you might have low levels of serotonin.

  3. Go into the light: light absorbed by your eyes increases levels of serotonin in the body. Being outside listening to nature is best, but if you can't get out, try a lightbox for those long and cloudy winters.

  4. Supplement: B6 and B12, emulsified vitamin D3, omega 3 fatty acids, 5 HTP, and St. John's Wart (do not take if already on anti-depressant medication), have all shown to be effective in helping mild to moderate depression symptoms. We also carry several adrenal support products and would be happy to make recommendations if you contact our office. Specific hormone tests are recommended to get a complete picture of how your body is working. See below.

  5. Further Testing: If you suspect you are depressed or have many of these symptoms, contact our office. We can implement a questionnaire and suggest blood work to assess whether you need to refer to a therapist, specialist, or psychiatrist or if you only need supplement support. We offer the tests for adrenal and hormone functioning through DUTCH Precision Analytical or Diagnostechs labs. We don't practice talk therapy at Chance Chiropractic Center directly but can help you figure out the right one for you if you like. Do not go through this alone or treat yourself if your symptoms are severe, or even moderate.

  6. Chiropractic Care: There is no doubt in my mind, with 20+ years of clinical experience to reference, that chiropractic care assists to improve your stress levels. Every nerve cell, all hormones, all chemical reaction, all organs, all muscle and joint cells, can be affected by a good chiropractic treatment. When is the last time you had a great "attitude adjustment? We offer online scheduling for the convenience of our patients, for both Lafayette or the Lakewood offices.

THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

  • Are you already on anti-depressant medications of you have already tried several medications or supplements to no avail? Do you have side effects from your medications, and you are ready to make a change?

  • Are your highs high and your lows low? Do you have manic episodes as well?

  • Do you drink or use drugs on a daily or frequent basis?

  • Persistent grieving can lead to depression.

  • Having 7 of the above signs and symptoms.

These statements are not intended to treat or cure any diseases. They are solely intended for educational purposes, and if you are concerned about any symptoms listed above please seek help from a qualified mental health practitioner.


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