Chronic back pain–that is, back pain that last six months or longer–can have negative effects on the health of our body, but also our mind. Those with chronic back pain are believed to suffer from clinical depression at rates four times higher than the general public. Likewise, 75% of people with depression also suffer from pain symptoms. Clearly, there is a link between how our body feels and how our mind thinks. For those with chronic back pain, there a number of reasons why depression occurs, including:
The chronic back pain itself
Chronic back pain can cause many sources of stress that may eventually lead to depression. A job lost due to the inability to continue working can lead to money, relationship, or self-esteem problems. The everyday wear and tear that can occur when sleep is disrupted due to chronic back pain can take a major toll on emotions and mood. The pain itself is exhausting for many who suffer from it, leading to depressed feelings. Work with a trusted pain doctor to find treatments that can help relieve your pain.
Perception of the pain
Many people with chronic back pain may catastrophize their general perceptions about their pain and the conditions causing it. When this occurs, a person may focus on their pain and magnify its effects on the body. This can literally lead to greater rates of pain that can then lead to higher rates of depression. Cognitive behavioral therapy performed under a trusted therapist can help many patients find techniques for coping with the pain. Likewise, relaxation techniques like biofeedback can help you learn how to relax tension in your muscles and reduce the amount of pain experienced.
Avoidance of physical activity
When you suffer from chronic back pain, the thought of exercise alone may make you feel worn out. However, avoiding physical activity can come at a real cost. It can not only exacerbate the pain, but also lead to self-esteem issues if your body weakens to the point of being unable to enjoy the activities you used to do. This can lead to social isolation and greater feelings of depression. Under a doctor’s supervision, an exercise program can help you reduce anxiety and depression, strengthen and stretch the back muscles, and relearn new techniques for performing everyday activities.
There is a clear connection between chronic back pain and depression, however, there are ways to help relieve the symptoms of both. It takes a coordinated effort between you, a pain doctor, and a therapist, but the effects are worth it.
Have you suffered from depression while suffering from chronic pain?