Does Inversion Therapy Help with Depression?
Puyallup, WA, March 2007 – You may have recently heard Rosie O’Donnell discussing her experience with depression recently on “The View.” Rosie reported that she has battled depression and seasonal mood problems and discussed taking antidepressants and doing inversion therapy for 15-30 minutes a day.
So you may be wondering – will inversion help with depression?
While we can point to a host of studies that support inversion as a way to help relieve back pain, relieve stress, stimulate circulation, and improve flexibility and ligament strength, we are not aware of any medical study that specifically addresses inversion and its ability to stimulate a chemical response in the body. That’s not to say that the benefits aren’t real, however. There is some evidence to suggest that adopting an inverted posture can help with depression* in several ways. Dr. Robert Martin, a pioneer in the inversion industry, discussed the inverted posture in his book The Gravity Guiding System1:
“We know that the brain is the center of nerve control and that all movements originate in the brain. When this brain mass lacks a sufficient supply of blood, the natural results will be slow body reactions and sluggish mental and physical reflexes–a possible reason for lack of mental alertness and response…When these symptoms appear, it is evident that postures which alter gravity’s effect are vitally needed.”
Win Wenger, in the book How to Increase Your Intelligence2, noted:
“Only those brain cells which are close to an ample capillary blood supply are thoroughly developed. Away from such source of supply, brain cells remain undeveloped and useless.”
Wenger describes “upside down activities” to increase oxygen supply to the brain. He asserts that you can improve the physical state of your entire brain–a brain that is better nourished simply works better.
Peter Russell notes in The Brain Book3 that the deterioration of the brain is not directly linked to age alone. Rather, this deterioration is caused by hardening arteries and high blood pressure, both of which decrease the supply of oxygen to the brain. Thus a major step in reducing mental deterioration over time may simply be increasing the oxygen supply to the brain. (NOTE: If you have high blood pressure, consult your physician before starting an inversion program.)
The book Yoga for Depression4 by Amy Weintraub spends a chapter exploring the benefits of the inverted yoga postures like Shoulderstand, Headstand and Handstand. She includes a quote from Karen Koffler, M.D., director of Integrative Medicine at Evanston Northwestern Hospital, who claims:
“Inverted positions that are assumed in Yoga alter the blood flow (including lymphatic drainage) and flow of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF). If there is increased blood flow to the area, there will be increased bioavailability of oxygen and glucose, the two most important metabolic substrates for the brain. It follows then that cells bathed in a solution that is rich in factors required for the creation of neurotransmitters (like norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin) will be better able to produce these chemicals.”
Norepinephrine regulates attention and arousal, dopamine regulates the ability to assess the passage of time and control movement, and seratonin regulates a healthy emotional state.
It’s important to note that inversion on a Teeter Hang Ups table offers a distinct benefit beyond the inverted yoga postures. A headstand places the body in an inverted position while still under compression by gravity. The Teeter Hang Ups inversion table allows the body to experience a decompressive stretch, so in addition to the circulation and lymph benefits, the Teeter allows all weight-bearing joints to decompress and re-hydrate.
Dr. Ed Thomas, kinesiologist and long-time inversion advocate:
“The way we feel is as much physical as it is mental. The way we respond to the external world has a lot to do with the way we are feeling internally. The usual stress of gravity on human tissue is debilitating. Every cell, tissue, and organ suffers under the relentless pull of gravity. By changing the direction and gently inverting the body on a day-to-day basis, you will be amazed by the long-term and even short-term benefits. Inversion has allowed me to help literally thousands of people live better and healthier lives.”
To learn more about how Teeter Hang Ups can have a positive influence on your ability to remain active, flexible, and pain-free, explore the benefits of inversion.
*If you think that you may suffer from depression, it is important to speak with a trained medical professional.
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1 Martin, Robert M., MD. The Gravity Guidance System: Turning the Aging Process Upside Down. Gravity Guidance Inc., Pasadena, CA 1982
2 Wenger, Win. How to Increase Your Intelligence. New York: Dell, 1975.
3 Russell, Peter. The Brain Book. New York: Hawthorne Books Inc., 1979.
4 Weintraub, Amy, MFA, RYT. Yoga for Depression: A Compassionate Guide to Relieve Suffering through Yoga. Random House Inc., New York, 2004