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Can Back Pain Cause Depression?

31 December 2021

Depression and chronic pain go hand in hand. If you find yourself in constant pain, you may also notice your mood changing. While we all get low mood from time to time, depression is a whole different issue and one that should always be taken seriously. We are going to explore what depression is and whether or not musculoskeletal pain can influence this.

What is Depression?

Depression is characterized by a number of mental and physical symptoms. It is different to ‘feeling sad’, and is more longstanding and serious than that.

The symptoms of depression can be complex and vary widely between people. They can persist for weeks, months or even years. You may find that you only have some of these symptoms listed below, or you might find you have all of them.

It is very important that if you have these symptoms, or have been told by friends that you have these symptoms, that you see your doctor.

Psychological symptoms

The psychological symptoms of depression include:

  • Feeling helpless
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Having low self esteem
  • Feeling guilty
  • Feeling sad a lot of the time
  • On the edge of tears a lot of the time
  • Crying for seemingly no reason
  • Having no motivation
  • Losing interest in hobbies or work
  • Indecisiveness
  • Having suicidal thoughts
  • Planning suicide
  • Irritability
  • Self harm
  • Lack of enjoyment in things that normally bring joy

Physical symptoms

The physical symptoms of depression include:

  • Speaking slowly
  • Lack of energy
  • Losing appetite
  • Increased appetite
  • Low sex drive
  • Pains
  • Insomnia
  • Disurbed sleep
  • Menstrual changes

Social symptoms

The social symptoms of depression include:

  • Avoiding people
  • Neglecting good friends
  • Neglecting social activities and hobbies
  • Becoming easily irritated with others
  • Losing friends

Severities of depression

Doctors describe depression by how serious it is and categorize it in three ways. These are:

  • mild depression – has some impact on your daily life
  • moderate depression – has a significant impact and makes it hard to function
  • severe depression – makes it impossible to function at all

Links Between Pain and Depression

Pain and depression are interrelated. Depression can cause pain — and pain can cause depression. This can cause a vicious cycle that can seem impossible to break away from.

Why does depression cause pain? We don’t really know. But people with depression say they experience unexplained pain, aches and headaches. This pain can then cause someone to feel even more depressed due to how debilitating it can be.

Why does pain cause depression? Well, for one, being in pain all the time cannot be pleasant and can cause you to miss out on friendships, hobbies or a healthy work life. This in itself can cause depression. Pain can also affect your sleep, and this lack of sleep can cause low mood. Disabling pain can cause low self-esteem because it can cause issues like unemployment, long term sickness or social stigma. You might also find that other people look at or think about you differently, which may make you feel self conscious and ‘different’ from others. If you need an aid like a walking stick, other people may also judge you or discriminate against you. All of this leads to poorer mental health.

Exercise is often associated with good mental health. But if you cannot exercise due to pain, then this will also be a factor in the onset of depression.

Basically, this issue is multifaceted and entirely individual. The best thing to do if you think chronic pain is causing depression is to try and combat the chronic pain. You should also speak to your doctor about this.

You could try...

  • Antidepressant medications - these are usually SSRIs that help balance out your brain chemistry. This might help you to cope better with depression and experience less pain as a result.
  • Talk therapy - this is often CBT which helps you to find strategies to deal with the pain and depression.
  • Pain rehabilitation - you might want to see a physiotherapist and try to sort out the core root of the pain. You should tell your physiotherapist if you are experiencing depression too.
  • Ergonomic furniture - this is furniture that has been designed with your body and mental wellbeing in mind. For example, if you have chronic back pain causing your depression, you could minimize or even eliminate this back pain with a properly adjusted ergonomic chair. Consequently, you could then see a lift in your depression, causing a positive upwards spiral.

Flexispot can help

Flexispot wants to help you if you have chronic pain causing depression. With properly designed furniture, you can minimise chronic pain and lift your mood. We have a huge range of furniture, accessories and even gaming chairs to make sure you stay healthy and comfortable during your working day. Click here to see the full range.