I want to talk about “mental health” for a moment. We have a tendency to frame mental health in a way that makes it seem separate from the rest of us; as if there are two separate boxes, one for mental health and the other for physical health, more commonly referred to simply as “health”. I would like to paint a picture of the oddity of this using an example that is easy to wrap our heads around.
This would be like saying there is “health” and then there is “heart health.” Imagine someone arriving to their doctor’s office having difficulty breathing. Any number of things can cause this symptom, but imagine for a moment that this person knows they have heart failure and they leave this out of the discussion with their doctor because they are coming in with a lung problem, and lungs are separate from the heart. We know these physical systems are intimately connected. We can picture how a heart problem with its network of vessels supplying the entire body could have an impact on another organ.
So what about the brain? Why is it as relevant to disclose to your chiropractor a history of a mental health condition as it is to disclose a history of repetitive ankle sprains? Because mental and physical health can not be separated into two boxes. A new picture must be painted demonstrating the connection between mental processes, the physical body and how we experience pain. Conditions including depression and anxiety have a bidirectional relationship with chronic pain meaning depression and anxiety can increase the risk of developing chronic pain and enduring chronic pain increases the likelihood of developing anxiety or depression. This relationship is so strong that antidepressants are often prescribed for chronic pain in the absence of depression. Your history of emotional trauma may alter our approach to care given that our main therapeutic modality includes physical touch and hands on work.
Your mind matters.
Your mental health is health.
We honour this.