Chronic Pain and Depression 
What's the Connection?

Chronic pain and depression commonly occur
because they are connected.

           Anxiety and depression are like a magnifying glass on pain.

Chronic pain is pain that has lasted for more than three months. In many cases there is no clear identifiable cause for the pain, or there is nothing more that can be done to cure it. You may see multiple doctors and undergo many different evaluations only to be told "There is nothing that we can do. You will have to learn to live with it."






"Learn to live with it"

It is easy to see how this can lead to frustration and anger. Even when the cause of the pain can be identified, if there is no cure, the idea of "living with it" can be very depressing. 

It is understandable that thinking about the rest of your life would make you anxious.

Symptoms can get better and worse

When you are depressed and living with anxiety a little bit of pain that is normally quite tolerable turns into this big overwhelming monster that controls your life.

It can be your state of mind that makes the pain worse and makes it overwhelming.

Your brain is your best pain management tool, but it can also work against you.

What Should You Do?

Talk To Your Doctor

If you feel that you are having symptoms of chronic pain and  depression or anxiety, you should discuss those with your doctor. If he is not comfortable treating such symptoms he can refer you to a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other mental health professional.

It is very important that you not ignore these symptoms.

Symptoms of Anxiety:

•Fears that you know are irrational

•Constantly feeling tense or on edge

•Avoiding situations be causing make you anxious

•Unexpected panic attacks that you know are unreasonable

Symptoms of Depression:

•Loss of interest in pleasurable activities

•Fatigue and lack of energy

•Feelings of worthlessness

•Persistent feelings of hopelessness 

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Manage Your Chronic Pain and Depression Separately

Chronic pain and depression need to both be managed and controlled, but they need to be evaluated and treated separately.

Make sure that your pain is as well managed and well controlled as possible. Yoga, Pilates or other stretching type exercises may be helpful, but go easy and make sure that you do not make your pain worse.

Meditation can help you change the way you think about your pain. Use your brain to frame your pain correctly. Think about your pain as being aggravating, irritating and troublesome. Meditation, when you learn how, allows you to examine and think about your pain more objectively. 

When you decide that your pain is only annoying, it will be only annoying and bothersome. If you think of your pain as horrible and horrendous, that is what it will be.

Pain may be Inevitable, but Suffering is Optional. 

          Chronic pain can lead to depression.

          Depression can lead to chronic pain.

Keep a Pain Log 

Get in the habit of rating your pain, and estimating your level of depression, and then write them down. Give your pain a number on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being only slight discomfort, and 10 being the most severe pain you have ever experienced. Your depression level can be more difficult to judge, but you can use a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being very little depression and 10 being very severe.

Write down your pain and depression level several times each day. Then the next day look at the numbers from the day before and think about what you were doing.

Try to identify activities or situations that make your chronic pain and depression worse. When you can identify things that make you feel worse you can avoid those things or change the way that you do them.

Sometimes just examining and thinking about conditions that make you more uncomfortable can lead to understanding that takes away some of the sharpness of the symptoms you're feeling.

Get on with Your Life

Many times when you are living with chronic pain you may not be able to do all of the things that you used to do. But, in spite of your pain, there are still things that you can do and you need to figure out what they are.

Being unable to work may be part of your depression.  It can lead to feelings of low self esteem, worthlessness, and lack of self respect.

You need to get busy doing things that make you feel better about yourself, things that give you self worth. Applying for a job and finding a job, any job, and doing it well can make you feel better about yourself.

When you are applying for a job you need to get up and get going. You need to find some nice clothes to wear. You need to take a shower, men need to shave, women need to put on a little makeup and fix their hair. 

Do What You Can Do Whatever It May Be

You may not be able to do the things that you have done in the past but there are still things that you can do. Many employers appreciate honesty, reliability, and devotion to the company. They will make accommodations to help you do your job.

Even if you have to force yourself in the beginning you need to get started doing things to break the cycle of chronic pain and depression. Talk to your doctor and find a mental health professional to help you. 

There are things that can be done and you need to get started doing them.



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