Undoubtedly, there is a strong link between chronic pain and depression. The relationship is reciprocal in that each condition can bring on symptoms of the other. While finding help for either condition alone is of utmost importance in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, finding professional help becomes increasingly important when you’re dealing with both conditions at once. To help you determine whether you are currently dealing with a combination of these two conditions, I’ve provided a symptom list of each below. These lists will help you prepare for a discussion with your physician by giving you common symptoms to base your concerns from. Read over the list below and take note of the symptoms that you are currently experiencing:
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Continuous sad, anxious or empty feelings
- Disrupted sleep patterns
- Overeating or loss of appetite
- Constant feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
- Thoughts of death and/or suicide
- Mild to severe pain that lasts longer than expected after injury
- Severe pain that may be described as shooting, burning or electric
- Constant discomfort, soreness, stiffness, tightness
- Change in mood. i.e. irritability, depression, anxiety or stress
If you are experiencing a combination of depression and anxiety, it is often best to treat the two conditions separately. This involves finding both a skilled pain specialist as well as a therapist. Combining their focused treatment methods will help you effectively treat both conditions simultaneously. However, working with two physicians does mean that you will need to report back to each with the therapies and medications you are receiving from the other. This way, you can be sure that you are receiving treatments that complement one another to produce the best possible results.
Getting the most out of your treatments
While carefully following the instructions provided by your doctor will be of the highest value, there are also a few other ways you can facilitate your treatment process as a patient. Some of these include:
- Keeping track of your pain symptoms and depressive moods in a journal and bringing it with you to appointments with your physicians.
- Developing and following a healthy diet and comfortable exercise routine
- Avoiding alcohol and cigarettes
- Reaching out to trusted friends and family members for help with difficult tasks
- Taking time for rest and relaxation
- Informing a trusted friend or family member of your medication/therapy schedule so that they can help you stay on track.
- Researching and asking your doctors about the medications and therapies you are prescribed.
I hope that this information will help you effectively identify and treat your unique condition. In my many years of practice, helping my pain patients gain a better understanding of their conditions and treatment options has allowed me to optimize the success of their treatments. I wish you the best of luck in your journey to relief and remind you that with wonderful online resources like Alliance Health Communities, support is just a click away.
Guest Post by: Lynn Webster, MD
About Dr. Webster
Dr. Webster is Medical Director of CRI Lifetree and current president of the Academy of Pain Medicine. He has conducted or participated in over 200 clinical studies over the course of his career as a pain physician and researcher. His research work centers on the development of safer and more effective therapies for chronic pain and addiction prevention. He is best known for developing the widely used Opioid Risk Tool (ORT) and for his public campaign to reduce overdose deaths from prescription medications. You can find a more information on Dr. Webster by viewing his Health Grades profile.