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Poor Lifestyle Choices Blamed for Rise in Mental Illness

Media Release

Date: 10th December 2012

Lack of Exercise and Poor Kiwi Lifestyle Choices Blamed for Rise in Mental Illness

The mental health of New Zealanders is being compromised by a lack of exercise and poor lifestyle choices warns the New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association following reports from the USA that mental health clinicians are considering exercise not just in therapy but as therapy.

Dr Hayden Thomas, chiropractor and spokesperson for the New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association explains: ‘Not only is our physical health being eroded but our mental well being is also being compromised by poor lifestyle choices, stress, tension, and reduced spinal function. It is becoming a phenomenon across New Zealand. In my own practice, I am increasingly seeing depression arising from a lack of movement from sedentary lifestyles and a lack of proper nutrition.

`To function properly, the brain requires key nutrients from our food to build nerve cells, form connections, and replenish chemicals that help signal between cells. Joint movement is also a key element required to fire input into the brain and keep it functioning. Essentially movement can be considered a nutrient for the brain. If we don’t get enough overall, or areas of our spine in particular are not moving properly due to injury or sedentary lifestyle, then there is reduced input to the brain and a decline in higher neurological processing.’

This month delegates attending Psych Congress 2012: US Psychiatric and Mental Health Congress in San Diego, California, were told that evidence in recent years suggests a unique effect by exercise on some psychiatric disorders, prompting mental health clinicians to rethink treatment strategies and to consider the possibility of exercise not just in therapy but as therapy[1].

Some of the strongest evidence is seen in depression, where psychiatric benefits from exercise have been shown in some cases to match those achieved with pharmacologic interventions and to persist to prevent reoccurrence in the long term[2].

Other studies have shown equally impressive results in exercise for a variety of populations, including pregnant women with depression, who have a high interest in avoiding medications, people with HIV, and even patients with heart failure, who showed not only a significant reduction in depression related to exercise but also reduced mortality[3].

Dr Thomas points out that: `People may not realise that chiropractic is a key wellness and prevention service. Chiropractors don’t just wait for people to break down but are primarily interested in preventing and correcting the underlying factors which cause ill health. A chiropractor will be able to check that all your spinal joints are moving properly to provide enough input to the brain and also look at other physical, emotional, nutritional and biochemical stressors that may be impacting on your body’s ability to self regulate and heal. Then working in conjunction with other members of the healthcare team your chiropractor will devise a programme that will help to address each of the factors.

For further information on the New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association visit


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