Can Chronic Pain Cause Depression?

Can Chronic Pain Cause Depression?
Counselling/Pixabay

Do you have chronic pain?  And depression?  Can chronic pain cause depression?  Read more to find out the research.  But even more importantly, read on to see what you can do about it.  

Did you know that chronic pain can affect your mental health? Experts say that it can cause depression and anxiety. I can attest to that. When my pain started, I didn’t know how I was going to manage. I wondered how I could even get out of bed, much less go to work. I was very worried about my future. So anxiety became a secondary issue along with my pain.

Depression

The WebMD defines depression as: “a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn’t worth living.”  Although I personally have not dealt with this, I have had family and friends that did.  You can’t just snap out of it.  Their website is chock full of information about depression.  

What is encouraging is that with medication, therapy and/or both, you can feel better.  Their site lists symptoms and what to do if you are depressed.  Check them out here; WebMD Chronic Pain and Depression

Although my pain did not lead me into depression, I have experienced anxiety regarding my chronic pain. Depression is the main result of chronic pain. Depression can become chronic as well. Then we fall into a spiral of suffering with our pain, and suffering depression and anxiety.

That’s why it is so important to be proactive about our condition. Natural pain remedies can include the following “non remedies”. The following are more suggestions that I hope will help you deal with your suffering.

Is There Anything I Can Do About This?

Community

That is another reason why I have this website. I encourage you to become part of this community. As fellow sufferers, I believe we can help each other. Just talking about our problem does help. It fosters hope. It connects us emotionally. Having someone understand my suffering lifts my load a bit. Therefore, your comments and involvement here are important to all of us. You don’t have to have all the answers! In fact you don’t have to have any answers! By being available to others and “listening” to their struggles, you are providing a priceless service.

I hope as well that you have someone close that is understanding and helpful in your search for relief from pain. Not all friends/family are understanding. I have found the most understanding people are the ones that suffer or have suffered themselves. Perhaps through our sharing here, we can discover other natural pain remedies. If one good thing has come out of this pain I suffer, I think it is that I am much more understanding and compassionate with fellow sufferers. This was a motivating force in creating this website.

Someone that is depressed can barely get out of bed.  If you are that person, please let a friend or family member know.  Or a therapist.  This isn’t normal and you deserve more from life.  If you know of a person that is struggling, make sure you stay in touch with them.  Be there and help as much as they will allow and you can manage.  Things will get better.

Can Chronic Pain Cause Depression?

And don’t think that people are just suffering from physical pain. We already know that physical pain can cause emotional or mental pain. By reaching out to others, we can relieve some of their suffering and lift ourselves up as well. Isn’t that amazing?

Exercise

Another coping skill is exercise. When I first started to seek alternatives to treating my pain, I searched for exercises to help. I was even sent to a physical therapist. Some of the movement at PT hurt me. Sometimes I would push through in hopes of finding relief. I don’t know if that was such a good idea. The physical therapy didn’t really help, even though I did it regularly and faithfully.

So I suggest you find what works for you. And start slow. Can you do some stretches while in bed? Can you do some chair yoga? Or merely walk a little around the house. Change positions often. In fact, if you have been sitting here, reading through posts and websites, I suggest you take a break right now and move for a little while. Then come back!

This video promotes a local program, but what the speaker says supports what I am telling you.

Every little bit helps. What I have found works best for me are gentle yoga stretches. And when I feel up to it, walking. What could be more natural than some sort of movement or exercise to relieve your pain?

I hate to admit it, but exercise is one of the hardest things for me to do. Which is crazy, because I know how much it helps me. I can actually tell the difference in how I feel depending on whether or not I do my stretches. So I have a mental fight with myself to make myself do the stretches. And they only take me half an hour! Half an hour for a pain free day is worth it, right? I’m thinking of building in some sort of reward system to help motivate myself. Suggestions are welcome. (But not food; that’s a whole other issue!)

Food

Speaking of food! Ha Ha. What I was referring to in the last paragraph is that I don’t want to use food as a reward. I have lived too long with the philosophy of “Living to Eat”. I now want to have the outlook of “Eat to Live”. Eating what is best for my body will not only impact my physical health, and my pain, but can also affect my mental health.

In her book, Happy Foods, Karen Wang Diggs spends a whole chapter (Chapter 5, Say Goodbye to Sad), writing about foods that affect our happiness. The whole book is an excellent resource of information for healthy eating, with easy recipes. I highly recommend it. She lists some of the same ideas I have here, on page 146 for ways to say goodbye to sad. The ones I haven’t listed above include: massage, volunteer work, gardening, therapy, and pets.

As far as foods, some good places to start, according to Diggs are:

Can Chronic Pain Cause Depression?
Stevepb – Pixabay
  • remove gluten and any other foods that may be allergens
  • eat probiotics
  • remove processed sugar
  • eat organic and free-range
  • enjoy healthy fats

I’ve been challenged in my search for eating better to consume less meat. It makes sense to me that eating fruit and vegetables which are in a natural form should be healthy. I’m investigating Flexitarian and Nutritarian (A term I read about in Joel Fuhrman’s book, Eat to Live.) philosophies. This is still a work in progress.

In Conclusion

At this point, I think it would be wise to sit with your thoughts and write out some goals for yourself. This year my overall general goals were make money, save money, and be healthy. Then I broke those down in to measurable tasks. I can imagine one of your goals is to be pain free. Can you try one of my suggested remedies? And give it some time. It took months for me to feel better. Even though I still have some pain, it isn’t as bad and I believe these remedies have been the reason. Please let me know what you did, how it worked and anything else that’s on your mind.

Disclaimer

I am not a medical professional;  just a fellow pain sufferer.  Please talk to your doctor about your pain, your depression, and any of these recommendations I have made.  

Sometimes I have links to products I recommend.  I have no such links here.

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