5 Tips for Coping with Chronic Pain and Depression

Chronic pain often contributes to depression which in turn increases pain.  The cycle of chronic pain and depression can be an endless battle.  Many wonder how to deal with the sad feelings and pain.

The following steps are to help prevent or cope with chronic pain and depression:

Recognize stressors that increase pain

Learn your stress or emotional triggers to take control of your pain.  You can learn to avoid or eliminate the triggers.  For instance, if time management is an issue then leave early!

Determine an early diagnosis of depression

Discuss the symptoms of depression during the acute phase of pain so the doctor is able to successfully treat both depression and pain.  If you experience any of these symptoms of depression, consult with your healthcare professional:  Feeling sad or anxious, Lack of motivation or energy, Lack of interest in activities, Feeling hopeless, A change in appetite, Struggle falling and/or staying asleep

Talk about your depression

Many believe once the pain has subsided that the depression and stress will also resolve.  Chronic pain can affect family relations, finances, work life, functionality, and the interest in hobbies even after pain as resolved.  Continue to seek care for your depression even after chronic pain as been treated.  Depression caused by your chronic pain may remain and affect your daily activities.

Multi-disciplinary approach

For the best treatment options for chronic pain and depression, combine the care of a physician and a mental health professional.  Chronic pain symptoms are continuously changing due to your mental state of mind.  Therefore, monitoring pain and depression simultaneously would present with optimal results.

Use medications and alternative treatment options

Many psychiatric drugs are also prescribed as pain medications.  Commonly used antidepressants are tricyclics and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) which regulate mood and pain preceptors.  Non-medicated treatment options include psychotherapy, physical therapy, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, hypnosis, cognitive and behavioral therapy.

Many believe once the symptoms have subsided that they have been treated.  The goal should be to treat chronic pain and depression and not only the symptoms.  These approaches to manage chronic pain and depression will help prevent future episodes and return to a healthy lifestyle.

To learn more:
Spine-health (link)
Harvard University (link)