One thing we know about pain and depression is they often accompany one another. If you’re injured and recovering for a long time and experience chronic pain, it’s not unusual to also suffer from emotional distress and mental health conditions. It’s possible that your pain can trigger depression, while pain can also result from depression, low moods, and other symptoms of mental illness.
What Is Pain?
Pain is different for everyone. Some people have a high threshold for physical and mental pain; others, not so much. It can be an unfriendly feeling, like an ache, burn, prick, tingle, or sting. It can lead to headaches and can be sharp or dull. Pain can be like water moving back and forth or constant, and can happen all over your body.
What Is Depression?
The American Psychiatric Association says that “Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease your ability to function at work and at home.”
Symptoms Of Depression
- Sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness
- Easily angered, irritated, or frustrated over something trivial
- Lack of interest in anything you enjoyed doing before
- Trouble sleeping or eating
- Tiredness and low energy
- Unexpected weight loss or gain
- Anxiety, agitation, or restlessness
- Slowed thought, speech, or bodily movements
- You feel worthless or guilty and can’t get beyond failures in your past
- Problems with memory, thinking, and decision-making
- Preoccupation with death and suicide
- Unexplained physical issues, like back pain or headaches
Instances Of Depression And Chronic Pain
Because we all have pain at some point, focusing on chronic pain may be more relevant. If you experience pain for more than six months, even with treatment, it could be diagnosed as chronic – and you’re not alone. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that chronic pain affects more than 20 percent of adults. Depression casts a wide net, too, affecting more than 40 million U.S. adults and nearly 300 million worldwide. Both conditions can affect anyone, regardless of gender or age.
Does Depression Cause Physical Pain?
At some time, we all experience pain – physical and emotional distress triggered by a multitude of factors or events. It’s human nature to want to avoid pain, but the sensation has a good purpose and is regarded as protective. The best example may be that of a built-in alarm, where pain kicks off signals in your brain as a warning that you must stop any task, action, or behavior that’s causing pain – thereby voiding further hurt to your body.
Research and experience tell us that pain, particularly chronic pain, has emotional and physical components. It’s a complicated experience affecting our behavior, thoughts, and moods, and can result in isolation, inactivity, and drug dependence.
“In those ways, it resembles depression, and the relationship is intimate. Pain is depressing, and depression causes and intensifies pain. People with chronic pain have three times the average risk of developing psychiatric symptoms — usually mood or anxiety disorders — and depressed patients have three times the average risk of developing chronic pain.”
Sometimes depression and pain orchestrate a brutal cycle that never seems to end. For many of us, depression triggers mysterious physical symptoms, which could be the first or only indicator of depression. But depression doesn’t always happen following an injury; you can also be at higher risk depending on the presence of certain illnesses or medical conditions.
There are many ways you can treat physical pain and depression. In fact, some treatments like ketamine therapy may reduce symptoms of both.
Diagnosis And Treatment
Diagnosing chronic pain and depression can happen at the same time. Your healthcare provider may uncover a medical problem based on a physical examination and test results. Once the source of pain is discovered, its symptoms can be treated. In the case of depression, you may need to see a mental health specialist, with the assessment focusing on thoughts, behaviors, and emotions as triggers of your condition. Both types of examination will explore your history of physical and mental health, as well as that of family members related by blood.
Treatment could include store-bought or prescription pain medicine, physical or psychological therapy, diet and lifestyle changes, or ketamine therapy.