Chronic pain and depression are closely related. While a person may experience either chronic pain or depression at different times in their life, they may also experience chronic pain and depression simulataneously — and this can have far-reaching effects on a person’s health.
To better understand the link between chronic pain and depression, let’s consider the characteristics and side effects of both conditions.
Chronic pain refers to pain that lasts 12 weeks or longer, and varies in terms of severity. In some instances, people experience sharp or dull chronic pain. Or, in other cases, chronic pain causes burning or aching sensations.
Common types and sources of chronic pain include:
- Lower back
- Neurogenic (caused by nerve damage)
Research indicates approximately one in five people globally deals with chronic pain on a regular basis. Chronic pain is also one of the leading causes of long-term disability in the United States.
There are many reasons for chronic pain including:
- Underlying Health Condition: Chronic pain has been linked to chronic fatigue syndrome, endometriosis, and other health conditions.
- Age: People are more susceptible to chronic pain as they grow older.
- Injury: Chronic pain may occur due to a prior injury.
There is no sure-fire treatment to alleviate chronic pain. Instead, people dealing with chronic pain may use one or more of the following treatments:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers
- Opioid pain relievers
- Antidepressant medications or other adjuvant analgesics
Like chronic pain, depression is a widespread problem. Depression symptoms range from mild to severe, and may include feelings of sadness, guilt, and hopelessness, as well as fatigue and appetite changes. There are several risks factors associated with depression, and these include:
- Genetics: People with a family history of depression are more likely than others to experience depression symptoms.
- Environment: Frequent exposure to poverty, violence, abuse, or other severe environmental conditions may increase a person’s risk of experiencing depression symptoms.
- Biochemistry: An imbalance of chemicals in the brain may cause depression symptoms.
Research shows the majority of people who experience depression symptoms also experience pain. Additionally, people who are dealing with pain that limits their independence are more susceptible than others to depression symptoms.
Depression in chronic pain patients often goes undiagnosed and untreated. If a person is dealing with chronic pain, he or she may be less likely than ever before to engage in physical activity. Meanwhile, decreased physical activity may lead to a loss of appetite, sleep disturbances, and other depression symptoms. The end result: this individual is more prone than ever before to severe depression.
Let’s not forget about the emotional response that chronic pain evokes. Some of the neurotransmitters associated with chronic pain and depression are identical and share the same nerve pathways. Thus, when a person dealing with chronic pain experiences hardship, loss, or any other trauma, this event may simultaneously trigger depression symptoms and magnify his or her pain.
For those who are dealing with chronic pain, depression, or both, help is available. With the right approach to chronic pain and depression, an individual is well-equipped to treat both conditions at the same time.
How to Manage Severe Chronic Pain and Depression Symptoms
The link between chronic pain and depression is strong, but many options are available to treat both conditions. Some of the best ways to simultaneously treat severe chronic pain and depression include:
- Antidepressants: Chronic pain and depression sometimes affect the same nerves and neurotransmitters. In these instances, antidepressants help reduce the perception of pain, as well as help alleviate depression symptoms.
- Exercise: It may seem counterintuitive to exercise to treat chronic pain. However, a regular exercise routine may help a person get in shape and reduce his or her risk of injury that otherwise contributes to chronic pain. Of course, it is usually a good idea to consult with a doctor before beginning an exercise regimen.
- Psychotherapy: With psychotherapy, an individual participates in one-on-one, group, or couples therapy sessions, with each session lasting about 30 to 50 minutes. During a therapy session, an individual can discuss his or her chronic pain and depression, and also explore ways to cope with these issues.
- Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS): TMS therapy involves the use of magnetic pulses to stimulate neurons in the brain. A TMS therapy program generally requires five therapy sessions per week, with each session lasting about 20 minutes. TMS therapy sessions are conducted over the course of six weeks and have been shown to help patients achieve long-lasting relief from depression and other conditions.
For people who are considering treatments to manage severe chronic pain and depression, meeting with a doctor is beneficial. A doctor can help a patient explore different treatment options and ensure this individual can find a safe and effective way to address severe chronic pain and depression.
The Bottom Line on the Link Between Chronic Pain and Depression
People who understand the link between chronic pain and depression can identify these medical conditions before they escalate. Plus, these individuals can explore a myriad of treatment options for chronic pain and depression, including TMS therapy from Achieve TMS.
Achieve TMS is a leading provider of TMS therapy in the United States. Our expert staff is available to meet with patients and teach them about all aspects of TMS therapy. Also, we perform in-depth patient evaluations to determine if an individual is a good candidate for TMS treatment.
At Achieve TMS, we offer free consultations for individuals considering TMS therapy for chronic pain, depression, and other severe medical conditions. To schedule a consultation with Achieve TMS, please call or text us today at 877-909-8595.