Depression and Chronic Pain

Chronic is often both emotional and physical, and it’s sometimes impossible to say whether the pain or the depression occurred first.

What Is The Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts longer than the normal period it takes for a sickness or injury to heal. Chronic pain is also defined as pain that lasts more than three months. According to research, 30 to 50% of persons who suffer from chronic pain also suffer from depression or anxiety. 

Chronic pain is not only a medical condition; it is also an emotional one that has a significant impact on a person’s emotions and moods. Individuals suffering from chronic pain may become isolated from others or lose mobility. Chronic pain is not only related to physical traumas; it can also be caused by diseases such as heart disease, arthritis, migraines, or diabetes.

The Link Between Depression and Chronic Pain

It can be difficult to determine whether chronic pain has caused depression or vice versa. Individuals who have chronic pain are three times more likely to acquire depression or anxiety symptoms, while persons who have depression are three times more likely to get chronic pain. Unexplained pain, such as headaches or back pain, is frequent in depression, and depressed persons may struggle to improve or maintain their physical health. Chronic pain, in turn, might cause difficulty sleeping, increased stress, or feelings of shame or worthlessness linked with melancholy. These factors can contribute to a difficult-to-break cycle.

Although melancholy can exacerbate chronic pain, people with chronic pain may be less inclined to detect and discuss depression symptoms with their doctor. In reality, half of all depressed people who seek medical attention only complain about physical symptoms. ⁴ Because pain and depression make each other difficult to cure, it’s critical to consider both while weighing therapy alternatives.


If you have some of the following symptoms in addition to chronic pain, you may be suffering from depression.

  • a lack of enthusiasm for activities
  • irritation or depression
  • sleep pattern changes
  • alterations in appetite
  • sentiments of shame or despondency
  • insufficient energy
  • difficulty concentrating
  • Suicidal thoughts.

Depression Test in 3 Minutes (Self-Assessment)

This quick quiz created by an expert might assist you in determining whether you are experiencing symptoms prevalent in people with Depression.

Building a Treatment Team

People gain the greatest when chronic pain and depression are treated together and by a multidisciplinary team. This expert group could include:

  • Physician. A doctor can perform a thorough examination and evaluation, make a diagnosis, and, if necessary, prescribe pain and psychiatric drugs.
  • Pain management expert. A pain specialist can educate the patient on the relationship between chronic pain and depression and help design a treatment plan.
  • A psychotherapist. Frequent sessions with a therapist skilled in cognitive behavioral therapy or another type of psychotherapy can help address anxious or negative thought patterns and teach coping methods that minimize pain and depression symptoms. They can also assist patients’ families in better understanding chronic pain and sadness.
  • A physical therapist. A physical therapist can help you improve your mobility, reduce discomfort, and boost your mood by teaching you useful exercises and muscle relaxation techniques.

Other practitioners, such as dietitians, acupuncturists, and occupational therapists, can help with chronic pain and depression.

Pic: Depression

Treatment Options

There are numerous treatment options available to treat and cure chronic pain and depression. Some examples are:

  • Talk therapy, often known as psychotherapy, can assist an individual in changing thought patterns, learning coping strategies for symptoms, and preventing future depressive symptoms.
  • Exercise, muscular relaxation, meditation, positive thinking, and other stress-reduction techniques are examples of stress-reduction techniques. Therapists, pain specialists, physical therapists, and others can make recommendations based on the patient’s requirements and interests.
  • Medicine – To alleviate symptoms, standard analgesics and antidepressant medications may be prescribed. Opioids may be prescribed for severe pain, but first discuss the dangers with your doctor, as well as any history of substance abuse.
  • Peer support – Many patients discover that support groups for chronic pain, mental illness, or both can provide emotional support as well as psychoeducation. If there isn’t an in-person support group in your region, consider seeking help online.
  • Inpatient or outpatient pain programs – When depression and/or chronic pain are severe, more intensive programs can give immediate and long-term support. These programs often offer on-site medical assistance, individual and group therapy, and psycho-education to help people cope with stress and discomfort.

If you consider that you have depression in addition to chronic pain, never be reluctant to tell your doctor about your mental as well as physical concerns. Though pain is invisible, it does not mean it is not real or that it cannot be treated. Consider who you may enlist today to assist you in regaining control of your body, mind, and spirit.