Pain and Depression/Anxiety

July 25, 2011

Depression and anxiety is common for people with chronic pain.  Imagine being in pain for months or years on end without hope of recovery.  It can be difficult to become motivated, when regular tasks require significant effort and fears about the future become overwhelming.  Medical appointments and prescriptions are costly and often involve ignorant and uncompassionate personnel.  When the body becomes warn down it can often intensify or trigger anxiety and depression in the most secure and happy individual. 

It is important to recognize the possibility that you may have to treat both the pain and the depression and anxiety.  It doesn’t mean that they have caused their pain by their thoughts, but that constant pain can contribute to a melancholy that is difficult to alleviate.  Pain can cause depression because of the losses, the potential inactivity, and strains on relationships and finances.  Not knowing what the future will hold, and navigating the medical system can increase anxiety. 

Since I have had chronic pain, I have experienced various levels of depression and anxiety.  I can notice the difference between a bad day, when my mood can elevate quickly by calling a friend or walking outside.  There are other times when the mood lasts for a week or more and I feel discouraged and unmotivated.  I may still enjoy some activities, but when the activity is done, I continue to fight the melancholy.  In my worst moments, I have had thoughts of suicide.  Fortunately for me, these are just random thoughts and escaping type of fantasies and they don’t tend to last long.  Anxiety tends to be more prevalent especially when dealing with the medical world, work, and relationships.  I worry about what other people will think and if I can meet their expectations.  I have always had a tendency towards both depression and anxiety, but this has increased as I battle to keep my pain at a manageable level. 

Dealing with depression and anxiety is so individualized that it is difficult to find typical solutions.  I recommend that people learn about depression and anxiety so they can be aware of the symptoms and when they need to seek professional help or should recommend help to others.  Depression and anxiety will increase the pain, and make life more unmanageable.  If they seem to be unproductive, unmotivated, discouraged, anxious and/or sad, depression and anxiety may be a factor.  Asking questions with compassion can give you a better idea of what is going on and give them assurance of your support.  Finding resources for them (and yourself if needed) is the best option for treatment. 



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