Besides irritability, agitation and stress that naturally accompany a person going through depression, he or she is also likely to witness chronic pain. In fact, numerous studies have highlighted that depressive symptoms tend to magnify pain that can disrupt his or her daily life.
Such chronic pain lasts much longer and affects the person in myriad ways. It brings about neurochemical changes in the brain that increase sensitivity to pain. This interferes with daily essential activities, such as sleep and work, which lowers productivity and performance that can even result in the loss of employment. Other symptoms witnessed due to such chronic pain, such as daytime fatigue, decrease in energy, muscle pain and weakness, can severely impair other social interactions and relationships.
Living with chronic pain is a struggle that affects mood and feelings negatively, thereby leading to depression and even suicide. Therefore, pain can serve as a precursor to various ailments, including depression or anxiety.
Depression and other mental illnesses tend to magnify negative emotions and feelings, including pain. It increases the brain’s sensitivity to pain stimuli and reduces a person’s coping skills. The same neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) are responsible for carrying such messages and interact in a vicious cycle.
This facet of the interaction between depression and pain was brought to the fore by a team of researchers from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. The researchers also highlighted the way the dual burden of chronic physical pain and mood disorders can turn out be a troublesome condition. As part of the study, they interviewed 5,037 adults suffering from a mood disorder like anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder. Nearly 50 percent of them reported experiencing chronic pain. Their findings were published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.
From this study, it can be surmised that health providers need to consider the effect of two or more chronic diseases on the mental health burden of these patients. Moreover, while designing treatment services or preventive interventions both psychiatric disorders and chronic pain need to be taken into consideration.
Depression and anxiety are the most common mental health complications arising due to chronic pain. Therefore, it becomes pertinent to diagnose and treat both physical and mental conditions. However, pain may mask the symptoms of the mental illness. Since doctors and patients may feel more comfortable discussing the physical aspects of the problem, other symptoms of depression may remain undetected or ignored. This results in sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, lack of energy and decreased physical activity that eventually worsens the pain.
Approximately 32 million Americans above the age of 20 suffer from pain lasting longer than three months. While between 25 and 50 percent of the population who complain of pain are also depressed, 65 percent of depressed people complain of pain.
Chronic pain and depression will affect a person’s life in overwhelming ways, but one needs to muster the courage to help himself or herself in living a wholesome life. Because chronic pain and depression are so intertwined, they are best treated together. An ideal treatment plan would approach all the facets of one’s life and ensure recovery through such a holistic treatment. Along with antidepressants, incorporating a regimen of exercise that is safe and effective would also help to build muscle strength and get one into shape in addition to flooding the brain with feel-good hormones.
If you know someone suffering from mental health illnesses, contact the Colorado Mental Health Help representatives who can guide you with information on a wide range of mental health treatment centers in Colorado offering evidence-based treatment. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-899-5063 or chat online with our experts for advice on the best mental health rehab in Colorado.