Studies on depression have revealed the condition is linked with health problems which also include chronic pain. While chronic pain is the name given to pain which persists for more than six months, depression is a mental illness which reduces the quality of life and interferes with daily life routines.
Chronic Pain: An Emotional Condition
Living with chronic pain is difficult and it gets worse when depression also sets in. Pain and particularly chronic pain apart from the physical sensation is also recognized as an emotional condition. Chronic pain is labeled as a complex experience by health practitioners that affects behavior, mood, thoughts, and can lead to immobility and even isolation.
For all those who suffer from chronic pain, it is a depressing experience and in turn not only causes but also intensifies the pain. The relationship between the two can be understood from the fact that individuals who are suffering from chronic pain are faced with an increased risk, that is they are three times more likely to develop psychiatric symptoms which may include anxiety disorders. Similarly, individuals who are suffering from depression are three times more likely to develop chronic pain.
Depression and Chronic Pain Magnification
In the simplest form, the impact of depression on chronic pain can be understood from the fact that depression in people who are suffering from chronic pain magnifies their pain. This makes it more difficult for the individual to cope with the situation and further reduces the quality of life for the suffering individual.
Though science has not yet reached any conclusion on how chronic pain and depression are linked yet both are known to be related. Chronic pain in individuals who are suffering from depression can further worsen their symptoms and also poses a risk of suicide in these individuals. Some studies have pointed out to the fact that inflammation might be the missing link between depression and chronic pain. However, research is yet on its way to find out what the exact connection between the two conditions is.
People who are suffering from chronic pain might ignore the symptoms of depression. However, it is important that individuals are diagnosed and treated as it can help greatly in managing their pain and improve their overall wellbeing. Treatment options for depression for people also suffering from chronic pain apart from prescription medicines also include CBT, which is a form of psychotherapy.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
This is particularly helpful for individuals who are suffering from chronic pain and depression as it can help these individuals bring about a positive change in their lives, which might alleviate the intensity of their depression. CBT is widely recognized as a treatment which treats both chronic pain and anxiety.
Relaxation techniques are also popular for combating stress which can be owing to the pain and anxiety.
Antidepressants and Pain Relief
Antidepressants can be used for treating the condition and owing to the complex relation between pain and depression most drugs which are used to treat psychiatric problems also address pain. Therefore, medications which are used to relieve depression, anxiety and other disorders also serve to ease out the related pain associated with these disorders. It is a well-known fact that antidepressants also have an analgesic effect.
Similarly, many lifestyle changes which address anxiety also help manage chronic pain and include adopting a healthier diet and making exercise a regular part of life.
Chronic pain and depression are therefore interrelated and an effective treatment for treating chronic pain will also take into account the associated anxiety disorder. It is because of this complex relation between the two that treating one condition can also help the affected person deal with the other.