The Connection Between Chronic Pain and Depression

By:

  1. Defining Chronic Pain And Depression.
  2. Is There A Connection Between Chronic Pain And Depression
  3. How To Manage Chronic Pain And Depression
  4. Tips For Living With Chronic Pain And Depression
  5. Conclusion


For those living with chronic pain, it can be an endless cycle of physical and emotional suffering. The person is not only dealing with the pain but also struggling with the mental and emotional toll it takes on them.

If you are suffering from chronic pain and depression, it is essential to know that many resources are available to help you. You are not alone in this journey! Please reach out to a medical professional; there are lots of things that can be done to reduce your burden.

Unsurprisingly, chronic pain and depression often go hand in hand. In fact, research shows that approximately one-third to three-quarters of people who live with chronic pain also suffer from depression. But what is the connection between chronic pain and depression?

In this blog post, we'll explore the connection between chronic pain and depression and some chronic pain treatment options.


1. Defining Chronic Pain And Depression

Chronic pain and depression are two conditions that impact many people's lives, but what exactly do they mean? Chronic pain can be defined as persistent and lasting physical discomfort that lingers far beyond normal healing time (three months). The pain often persists after the injury or condition causing it has healed. People with chronic pain find that chronic pain affects daily life by making activities like exercising or going to work increasingly difficult. Chronic pain affects 1 in 5 Australians aged 45 and over.

On the other hand, depression is a mental illness characterisedrised by low mood, loss of interest in activities, sleep problems, irritability, and more. Unlike chronic pain, depression manifests more internally than externally, impacting your emotional health and central nervous system -- therefore, it is not always easily visible. However, this doesn't make it any easier to relieve pain or make it any less real. While these ailments affect many individuals, understanding these next steps toward wholeness can help improve their quality of life.



2. Is There A Connection Between Chronic Pain And Depression

There is an undeniable connection between chronic pain and depression that has been clearly demonstrated through various medical research.

Evidence suggests that while experiencing chronic pain may lead to psychological distress, it also appears that depression can worsen the existing effects of chronic pain, creating a cycle of discomfort, unrest, and anxiety.

As a result, individuals with chronic pain who have developed depression should seek pain relief plans to manage their physical symptoms and mental health. Having healthy management strategies for both could significantly improve overall well-being.



3. How To Manage Chronic Pain And Depression

With the proper management techniques, chronic pain and depression can be defeated. Here are a few ways to treat chronic pain and find pain relief.

Recognise The Contributing Factors To Chronic Pain

The most crucial step to managing chronic pain and depression is recognising the factors that contribute to them and how to cope with them. This may include lifestyle factors like diet, exercise, sleep habits, etc. It’s important to identify any psychological or environmental factors that may hinder your pain management, such as stress, depression, or anxiety.

Chronic pain affects people differently. Gaining a better understanding of what triggers one's pain, as well as creating lifestyle changes is essential. For example, you may find that walking aggravates the pain, while swimming and medication relieve the pain.

Create A Plan For Active Management For Your Chronic Pain

Developing a plan of active measures like diet, exercise, relaxation, cognitive behavioural therapy, and lifestyle adjustments can help manage chronic pain and depressive symptoms. For example, exercising regularly can increase endorphins, which are natural pain relievers and can help those who experience chronic pain and treat depression without needing pain medicines.

However, there may be times when you need psychological therapy or other medical treatments to help reduce pain. For example, if you have persistent pain associated with your chronic pain and nothing else is helping, your doctor may prescribe psychological treatment to help you manage it.

Seek Professional Help

Finally, seeking medical help is essential in managing depression and chronic pain. As both conditions can be highly debilitating, professional advice may be necessary to identify the best treatment plan for an individual's unique situation. Often a multidisciplinary approach is optimal.

Seeing a general practitioner is a great starting point; they can help assemble the optimal set of health care professionals for your specific pain management network. This can include physiotherapists, chiropractors, osteopaths, podiatrists and remedial masseuses, psychologists, family and friends.



4. Tips For Living With Chronic Pain And Depression

Managing chronic pain and depression can seem like an impossible task, but there are ways to make life a little easier. Here are a few ideas that may help:

Create A Support System

Having a support system is essential for managing chronic pain and depression. This could include friends, family, and healthcare professionals who can provide emotional and practical assistance.

It is common for people with chronic pain to pull away and recluse. If you are struggling with pain or depression it is essential to reach out to healthcare professionals and establish a support system.

If you are ever feeling suicidal, please call lifeline on 13 11 14.

Find A Balance Between Rest And Activity

It’s important to find a balance between rest and activity – this may mean taking it slow on the days when both pain and depression flare up. While it’s important to stay active and engaged in life, it's not always easy when dealing with chronic pain. Make sure you're getting enough sleep in your day-to-day life. Additionally, finding relaxation techniques and exercises such as yoga or meditation can provide relief for both pain and depression.

Consider Other Medicines

Unfortunately, most pain medications do not treat the underlying cause of the pain, they temporarily mask the symptom (pain). It is important to manage your chronic pain under the supervision of a doctor. If you are feeling significant pain during your day-to-day life, you will want to discuss this with your treating doctor.

Your doctor can increase the doses of your pain medictaions or even swap the medication to one that suits you better. It’s important to consult with a health professional before making any decisions about which treatments are best for you.

Listen To Your Body

Listening to your body is paramount in managing chronic pain and depression. Pay attention to the signals it’s sending you, and make sure to take the time to rest and recharge when needed. This may mean taking a few days off from work or engaging in self-care activities such as reading, listening to music, journaling, etc.

Stop comparing yourself to others

Chronic pain is very difficult to live with and affects people differently. It is important to understand your limitations and not compare yourself to others. If you can't complete a simple task due to pain, don't be harsh on yourself.

Too often people with chronic pain feel like they are a burden to those around them. It is important to do what you can while understanding your limitations. Your chronic pain does not define you. You deserve to be happy!

Change Up Daily Activities

Finally, changing up daily activities may be beneficial: switching between mental and physical tasks throughout the day provides your brain with periodic stimulation and breaks away from symptoms. With these tips in mind, living with chronic pain and depression doesn't have to be unbearable.



5. Conclusion

Living with chronic pain is difficult enough without having to worry about developing depression on top of it all—but unfortunately, this is often the case for many people who are dealing with long-term physical ailments such as arthritis or fibromyalgia.

Fortunately, there are treatments available to get your chronic pain treated. If you think you may be struggling with both chronic pain and depression simultaneously, then reach out to a medical professional today, so you can start feeling better sooner rather than later!