Overcoming depression caused by chronic pain

June 5, 2019

depressed man sitting alone If you have chronic pain, that means your pain has lasted longer than the typical time it takes for an illness or injury to heal. It could also be that you have pain that has lasted longer than three months.

In either case, it is a difficult position to be in, and it often leads to feelings of depression. Research suggests that 30% to 50% of people with chronic pain struggle with depression or anxiety.

What causes depression in those with chronic pain?

Depression is one of the most common mental health problems found in those who have chronic pain. The American Pain Foundation says that about 32 million people in the U.S. report having had pain lasting longer than a year, and on average, 65% of those who are depressed complain of pain. But because depression in people with chronic pain is often undiagnosed, it is also often untreated.

It can be difficult to know whether chronic pain has led to depression, or the opposite. Depression can cause unexplained pain, such as headaches or back pain, and people who are depressed might struggle to improve or maintain physical health. The result of this is that chronic pain can lead to trouble sleeping, increased stress, or feelings of guilt or worthlessness associated with depression. This can create a cycle that is hard to break.

You might be suffering from depression in addition to chronic pain if you have some of the following symptoms:

  • Lack of interest in activities
  • Depressed mood or irritability
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Changes in appetite
  • Feelings of guilt or despair
  • Lack of energy
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Suicidal thoughts

Where to go for help for chronic pain & depression

We have seen patients benefit the most when chronic pain and depression are treated together. Pain specialists, like those at Southside Pain, can tell you more about the relationship between chronic pain and depression. We can also help you come up with a treatment plan. Regular sessions with a therapist can be very helpful, and working with a physical therapist to improve mobility and reduce pain may be beneficial as well. Other professionals such as nutritionists, acupuncturists, and occupational therapists also have knowledge that can help with chronic pain and depression.

There may also be standard analgesics and antidepressant medications that can help with depression symptoms. Many people find that support groups for chronic pain, mental illness, or both can provide emotional support and education.

If you think you might have depression in addition to chronic pain, we urge you to talk to your doctor about it. Be honest about your feelings, and don’t ignore this important, emotional side of things.

Southside Pain Specialists is your one-stop shop for pain management

With a multitude of pain relief options tailored to your specific needs, Southside Pain Specialists follow the standards of the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, The American Board of Pain Medicine and the International Spinal Injection Society and works hard to provide patients comprehensive, caring pain relief when they need it most. Check out our website or contact us today at 205.332.3155 to learn more.