The relationship between mind and body is complicated, and at times disentangling symptoms can be difficult. That’s often the case with depression and chronic pain like back pain. It’s common for people suffering from depression to experience chronic aches and pains that can feel like muscle or joint pain or just a general, all-over sense of discomfort (some compare it to the flu). Of course, on the other hand, people who are living with a chronic pain problem may become depressed because of the difficulty of finding relief from their pain, the diminishment of their quality of life, and/or being unable to work or participate in other activities.
In order to find relief, it’s important to work with physicians who understand and treat you as a whole patient, not simply a set of symptoms. Though there are many prescription medications available for treating depression, complementing these with some form of talk therapy may be more helpful if you are experiencing chronic pain. In the same way, working with a pain specialist who will take the time to understand not only your symptoms but also your broader situation is key. That’s one reason why at the Spine Institute Northwest, we take a comprehensive approach to pain management and treatment, providing coordinated care that gives patients the benefit of different specialists’ perspectives and expertise.
One upside to the complex relationship between depression and chronic pain: In many cases, treatments that are intended for one issue may be able to benefit both. Some patients do experience relief from pain when anti-depressants are successful. Exercise is one tactic that has been shown to make a difference in relieving back pain, and it’s also known to provide mood-boosting benefits to those suffering from depression.
If you’re struggling with chronic back pain, it’s important to be proactive to try to forestall a negative impact on your mood or mental health. Activities that provide stress relief, like gentle yoga, meditation, or massage, may help you to maintain a better mood. However, an accurate diagnosis and a clear treatment plan can help you avoid the feelings of despair and hopelessness that can result from the sense that you’re at the mercy of your pain. Intervention can also, of course, help you by actually bringing you relief from chronic pain. Are you ready to get started? Take the first step, and call the Spine Institute Northwest at 206-496-0630 to schedule a consultation.