Chronic pain and depression: These two maladies are often linked, and they can often become a vicious circle.

The Connection Between Chronic Pain and Depression

Both depression and chronic pain often interfere with quality of life. Sufferers often struggle to sleep, exercise, concentrate, and perform the normal functions of life and work. They may be easily agitated, over sedentary, and isolated. Their social interactions may suffer. Resentments may develop, as the suffering party is unable to do their accustomed duties in the family or workplace. This constellation of difficulties can be a downhill slide, as pain leads to further depression, which leads to further pain, and so on.

According to the American Chiropractic Association, “depression is the most common emotion associated with chronic pain.” They find that depression is thought to be three to four times more common in people with chronic pain. Further, 30% to 80% of people with chronic pain suffer depression.

Depression can also have a negative impact on treatment outcomes. A depressed patient may experience greater pain and debilitation in the case of treatments and surgeries, prolonging the recovery process.

While either symptom is a burden, the chronic pain combined depression is a greater disability by far.

What Causes Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is sometimes hard to explain. In many cases there are obvious triggers, such as headaches, arthritis or inflammation. In other cases, it’s challenging to identify physical findings or objective evidence which explain the origins of the pain. These cases are the most prone to lead to depression, as the patient feels increasingly victimized, misunderstood, and isolated. Sometimes they’re told it’s all in their head, which makes matters worse.

How to Deal with Chronic Pain

Determining the cause of chronic pain is challenging, but can be a key step in resolving the problem. Chiropractors specialize in understanding the patient as a fully integrated body and mind, and are skilled at investigating the nature and the source of the pain, and treating the origins of the pain as well as the pain itself.

In addition to treating the pain, they can help patients return to an improved sense of control and participation in their lives. They can offer guidance regarding the amount and type of activity to engage in, and help them modify or replace behaviors which contribute to chronic pain, depression, or both.

How to Identify Chronic Pain and Depression

The American Chiropractic Association offers these tips for identifying chronic pain and depression:

Chronic pain–Some of the common signs and symptoms of chronic pain include:

  • Pain beyond six months after an injury
  • Allodynia—pain from stimuli which are not normally painful and/or pain that occurs other than in the stimulated area
  • Hyperpathia—increased pain from stimuli that are normally painful
  • Hypersensation—being overly sensitive to pain

Depression–Signs of major clinical depression will occur daily for two weeks or more, and often include many of the following:

  • A predominant feeling of sadness; feeling blue, hopeless, or irritable, often with crying spells
  • Changes in appetite or weight (loss or gain) and/or sleep (too much or too little)
  • Poor concentration or memory
  • Feeling restless or fatigued
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities, including sex
  • Feeling of worthlessness and/or guilt

The Chiropractic team at Life Wellness Center will listen with compassion to clients experiencing chronic pain and/or depression. We’ll complete a detailed exam and attempt to identify the source of any pain or depression while also trying to mitigate the symptoms. Our goal is to enable clients to return to a more satisfying life with decreasing pain and increasing vitality and positivity. Contact us if chronic pain and/or depression is something you or someone you know is dealing with and you’d like to explore how we can help!