Depression can cause pain and pain can cause depression. And sometimes pain and depression can create a vicious cycle.
“Pain and the problems it causes can wear you down over time and affect your mood. Chronic pain causes a number of problems that can lead to depression, such as trouble sleeping and stress. Disabling pain can cause low self-esteem due to work, legal or financial issues” which can also dramatically affect one’s mood.
~ The Mayo Clinic
If you are living with chronic pain, depression, although perhaps in some respects expected, is a serious concern, not to be discounted or ignored…
Feeling blue or sad occasionally is normally a short-lived and common human experience but for those living with pain it can become a compounding and serious condition in it’s own right. It also can interfere with an already challenged daily life and, importantly, impact (what, for many of us, may already be strained) relationships with those who care about and for us.
“Pain, especially chronic pain, is an emotional condition as well as a physical sensation. It is a complex experience that affects thought, mood, and behavior and can lead to isolation, immobility, and drug dependence. In those ways, it resembles depression, and the relationship is intimate.”
~ Harvard Health
So what to do?
Antidepressant medications may relieve both pain and depression because of shared chemical messengers in the brain. The American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology is a good resource.
- Talk therapy, also called psychological counseling (psychotherapy), can be effective in treating both conditions. The American Anxiety and Depression Association of America and the American Psychological Association can help you locate a therapist as well as being a source of helpful information about the process.
Stress-reduction techniques, physical activity, exercise, meditation, journaling, learning coping skills and other strategies also may help.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)- a type of psychotherapy that has, as its premise, the idea that our thought habits can fall into unproductive and destructive patterns (depression can fall into this category) and to challenge these, in a skilled manner, gives us not only choice but also freedom and the keys to healthier thought habits addressing both our mental health and pain management. The Great Courses offers a course on CBT presented by Professor Jason M. Satterfield, the Director of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). This may be an especially good, constructive option for those whose chronic pain limits their mobility.