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Neck complaints and depression

There is a connection between mechanical neck problems and depression.

Over the years

At about the age of 22 I felt seriously depressed.
During that period I felt physically unwell and I was tired and I felt down. I started to rebel against my parents. The contact with my parents became good after a few month.
Looking back at the period, the cause was my neck problems. In that period I sat in cars and behind my desk with a bended back and neck. I did not know then that my neck problems were the cause. After that period I thought I had left that behind me.
By the way, I never made it a secret that I felt down in that period.

When I was 26 years old and could no longer do my work for full days, it became clear that that my neck problems were the cause of my physical complaints such as dizziness, fatigue and difficulty with concentrating.

After that I worked for half days for a few years. Because of that, my neck complaints increased a lot, and at the age of 31 I could no longer do my work for half days. The depressive feelings also returned due to the increased neck problems.

At the age of 41 I saw my old medical record from the general practitioner. Then it became clear to me that the complaints for which I had been examined in the hospital at the age of 5 were the same as my current complaints.

It became clear how much influence my neck problems had on almost my entire life. I am now 52 (in 2018), and I read more and more that there is a connection between neck complaints and depression. So it is about time that I try to put it into words.

Description of how I feel

When there is more mechanical pressure on my neck, it influences my mood, my mental state of mind.
That is not because of the pain or as a result of feeling physically uncomfortable, but it directly affects my mood.

When I do too much and my neck is overburdened, then I know in advance that my mood will be more negative and depressed.
But even though I know it in advance, I can not change it. I can try to prepare myself spiritually, but there is nothing I can do to to diminish the negative feeling.

It is difficult to describe how I feel at such moments.
I don't feel irritable and I don't tend to evade others. I also don't eat much more or less. I don't feel less worthy than others and I don't think more negatively about others.
During that period I feel sad and depressed. I have little hope for the future. I have a strong feeling that I don't belong in this world. Sometimes I don't care whether I live or not. It is no longer possible to enjoy something. I cannot alleviate my negative feeling by listening to music or eating good food. I know all kinds of psychologically techniques for dealing with depression. At such moments however, that does not help at all.
In the past I did a course to deal with chronic pain, that is valuable.

How I deal with it

I deal with those feelings by keeping myself very calm for a few days. By paying attention to my posture of my back and neck. By keeping my neck warm, for example with a hot shower. By not worrying about anything. By postponing all things that I still have to do (such as household or administration). That way the negative feelings diminish after a few days.

Besides the influence on my mood, there is of course also the physical problems due to the mechanical pressure on my neck.
I can take painkillers against back pain and pain in my neck. That also makes my neck muscles relax more easily, resulting in less mechanical pressure on my neck. An increase in mechanical pressure on my neck is always accompanied by headache and more dizziness and fatigue. The headache varies from light headache to severe migraine. Because of my neck complaints I don't rest well during sleeping, so tiredness and not being able to think clearly often play a role. When I take medication against migraine, then I am a lot more tired afterwards.
With a lot of mechanical pressure on my neck I feel a tension on my whole body. With even more pressure on my neck, my breathing is no longer automatic. With even more pressure on my neck, my muscles contract, such as the muscles of my arms and my belly.


I have never used antidepressants. I have ethical objections for using that in my situation. Such drugs can change a person's personality and reduce conscience. I have read a lot about it, and I suspect that mechanical neck problems have a greater chance that antidepressants will be counterproductive.

Osteopathy can help

When I have a lot of mechanical pressure on my neck, and an osteopath or chiropractor manages to get that loose, then my mood also gets a lot better. Of course I immediately feel a lot better when there is less pressure on my neck, but my mood becomes a whole lot more positive in the days that follow.
That effect is so strong that when my neck vertebrea had a better position for a week in 1995 (I could be wrong by one or two years), that it was the happiest week of my life.
I have described that also in my "own story" (in Dutch). That was for a major part due to stabilization exercises for my neck to counter the torsion of my cervical vertebrea, which helped when a osteopath corrected my neck.

If an osteopath or chiropractor succeeds in getting the position of my neck vertebrae better, then I rest better at night while sleeping. In three days that gets better and better. That seems to be related to my mood.

Physical movement is good

In 2018, after many years of trying, I had created a collar that provided support. With that neck collar I could take a walk on a daily basis. It was 26 years ago that I could do that. The daily walk is good for my body.
My neck complaints have not decreased by my daily walk. For example, I in 2019 I often lie at night with a neck collar, because otherwise my neck muscles will tighten because I lie uncomfortable.

Because my condition improved by walking, I was able to go swimming in 2019. That created more movement in my back and neck, and that did have a positive effect on my mood.

If my neck has been stressed more, then I still get exactly the same negative feelings as before.

Skew of the neck vertebrae

The connection between mechanical neck problems and depression seems to especially present with a mechanical skew of the upper neck vertebrae.
In 1999 MRI scans were made of my neck. While I was in the MRI scanner, there was a lot of pressure on the left side of my neck at about 3/4 height. I expected that something should show in the scan, but I can not see that.
What can be seen is that in the lower part of my neck the vertebrae en trachea and esophagus are not straight in line, that is because my spine from my back has some rotation. Below is a cross-section of the lower part of my neck.
During the MRI scan my body was straight, and my head was straight in some kind of shape.

MRI scan nek MRI scan nek
The MRI scan was taken at a moment that my neck vertebrae caused less trouble. Because the traveling distance to the hospital was too stressful for my neck and probably also because the neurologist had me put on a hometrainer, my neck trouble has increased.
Since then (I write this in 2023), I was never able to return to situation that neck was like it was at the moment of the MRI scan.


When you read this and you find it weird that I write about depression, then I can understand that. Fortunately, many people do not suffer from depression and cannot imagine that feeling.

Rights: The M.R.I. scans on this page are older than
the common medical storage of 15 years in the Netherlands,
and I make them hereby Public Domain, unless otherwise noted.
Last change to this page: March 2023