Chronic Pain & Depression
Chronic Pain & Depression
Psychological and social issues often amplify the effects of chronic pain. For example, people with chronic pain frequently report a wide range of limitations in family and social roles, such as the inability to perform household or workplace chores, take care of children, or engage in leisure activities. In turn, spouses, children and co-workers often have to take over these responsibilities. Such changes often lead to depression, agitation, resentment and anger for the pain patient and to stress and strain in family and other social relationships.
How is depression involved with chronic pain?
Depression is the most common emotion associated with chronic pain. It is thought to be three to four times more common in people with chronic pain than in the general population. In addition, 30 to 80 percent of people with chronic pain will experience some type of depression. The combination of chronic pain and depression is often associated with greater disability than either depression or chronic pain alone.
People with chronic pain and depression suffer dramatic changes in their physical, mental and social well-being—and in their quality of life. Such people often find it difficult to sleep, are easily agitated, cannot perform their normal activities of daily living, cannot concentrate, and are often unable to perform their duties at work. This constellation of disabilities starts a vicious cycle—pain leads to more depression, which leads to more chronic pain. In some cases, the depression occurs before the pain.
Until recently, we believed that bed rest after an injury was important for recovery. This has likely resulted in many chronic pain syndromes. Avoiding performing activities that a person believes will cause pain only makes their condition worse in many cases.
Depression associated with pain is powerful enough to have a substantial negative impact on the outcome of treatment, including surgery. It is important for your doctor to take into consideration not only biological, but also psychological and social issues that pain brings.
How can Chiropractic help depression?
The first step in coping with chronic pain is to determine its cause, if possible. Addressing the problem will help the pain subside. In other cases, especially when the pain is chronic, you should try to keep the chronic pain from being the entire focus of your life.
Stay active and do not avoid activities that cause pain simply because they cause pain. The amount and type of activity should be directed by your doctor, so that activities that might actually cause more harm are avoided.
Feel free to discuss feelings of depression with your doctor of chiropractic. He or she may suggest some simple techniques (relaxation training, biofeedback, exercises/stretches) that may work for you or may refer you to another healthcare provider for more in-depth training in these techniques.