The Link Between Pain & Depression

Apr 18, 2017

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Pain can lead to depression, and depression can lead to pain.

Pain can lead to depression, and depression can lead to pain. The relationship between these two situations can cause a vicious cycle that worsens feelings on both the physical and emotional scale. Understanding if depression is a factor of your chronic pain can be a vital element in learning how to alleviate your discomfort. For some patients, simply changing their diet and starting some exercise can help with pain and may – without them even knowing it – also help with depressive symptoms. However, more severe cases of depression may need deeper intervention, how can you verify that your pain is linked to depressive symptoms?

How Depression Can Cause Pain

For most people, depression can cause physical symptoms that don’t appear to have any apparent reason – much like chronic pain. These symptoms can be headaches, back pain, or general feelings of soreness throughout the body. What makes these symptoms harder to evaluate is that they may only be the first – or only – sign of depression. Behavioral symptoms of depression can also build a perfect storm of pain in the near future, as some people become more inactive, avoid healthy eating, and are generally less inclined to take care of their bodies. Ignoring health needs can make you more susceptible to pain and injury, and patients with severe depressive disorders will find it harder to notice such changes happening.

How Pain Can Cause Depression

Coping with pain can be a serious mental stressor, especially for people who live busy lifestyles. Chronic pain can make it difficult to sleep, move around, or focus on a project at work. Pain that is so intense that it can disable a person may lead to low self esteem as it interferes with your job and can cause issues with finances. The pain that can cause depression is not limited to chronic pain; people who have to treat health conditions like heart disease or diabetes are also under risk.

How Do You Address Your Symptoms?

Depending on your situation, you will either want to address pain and depression as separate entities, or as one problem. Several treatments can help with both at the same time, and it is best to speak with a medical expert in pain treatment to learn what can work best for you. These treatments include, but are not limited to:

        • Talk Therapy: Also known as psychotherapy, this treatment is more psychologically focused but can help patients build behaviors that prevent feelings of pain.
        • Pain Rehabilitation Programs: Pain rehab often offers a team approach to treating your symptoms, mixing together psychiatric and medical aspects. The reassurance and support of team leaders and being with others who are in similar situations can help with addressing symptoms.
        • Stress-Reduction Techniques: A significant number of chronic pain symptoms come from an overabundance of stress and muscle tension. Stress reduction techniques can help relieve tension and often pumps much needed activity to the brain which can contribute to reducing depression.

If you believe you are experiencing a mix of pain and depression, it is preferable to see a pain expert as soon as possible before the symptoms get worse. The right treatment can help you enjoy life once more. 

Contact Garden State Pain Center today for expert chronic pain treatment in New Jersey.