Case study explores chiropractic for anxiety


The Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research (JVSR) made news again last month after publishing a case study in which a patient's anxiety symptoms — including headaches — were significantly resolved after chiropractic adjustments. The World Chiropractic Alliance (WCA) distributed a press release on the study, which was re-broadcast on various sites on the Internet, including

The study described a 19-year old female diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) who suffered from somatic and psychiatric symptoms for two years. After a four-month course of chiropractic care, the young woman reported an 80% reduction in her anxiety symptoms, including a 90% decrease in her headaches. The patient was able to resume a normal lifestyle without resorting to prescription or over-the-counter drugs.

The patient's previous medical treatment had included multiple emergency room visits, private specialists, and a rotation of drug therapies including Paxil, Xanax, and Celexa — which all failed to manage her symptoms.

The research was co-authored by Dr. Madeline Behrendt, associate editor of JVSR, and Dr. Nathan Olsen, a chiropractor in private practice in Boise, Idaho.

The patient's history included at least three motor vehicle accidents between 1995 and 1997. In one, her head shattered the windshield. The initial chiropractic evaluation detected the presence of vertebral subluxations. (The full study is available to JVSR subscribers and an abstract to non-subscribers at

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety is the most common mental health illness, affecting more than 19 million Americans ages 18-54. These patients make three-to-five times more visits to doctors' offices and emergency rooms and the Anxiety Disorders Association of America reports that direct health care costs and lost productivity from these conditions cost more than $42 billion per year.

The drug therapies commonly used in treatment for mental health disorders have recently come under closer scrutiny because of their poor rate of effectiveness and potentially deadly side effects, including increased suicidal tendencies in young people.

Despite this, most consumers are not given information on non-drug options and remain unaware of the benefits and cost savings that complementary and alternative care may offer.

"This young woman spent two years in crisis, going from emergency room to private specialist, spending thousands of dollars for tests and drug therapy, without any resolution of her problems. A simple, non-invasive spinal screening ultimately provided the findings that made the difference: her spine was subluxated, impinging on nerves, and altering the proper function of her nervous system," Behrendt reports. "How many other people are suffering unnecessarily because they are missing the proper screening?"

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