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can depression cause chronic pain

The Connection Between Depression And Pain

You get depressed occasionally and often notice you have headaches and minor back pain to go along with it. So it makes you wonder – are they related? Chances are very high that pain and depression are linked, but the more you know, the greater your chance of treating both conditions.

What Is Depression?

Depression (major depressive disorder or clinical depression) is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.” It triggers feelings of sadness and lack of interest in once enjoyable activities. Depression is characterized by emotional and physical problems, to the point where it interferes with daily life.

Types Of Pain

The five most familiar kinds of pain are:

  • Acute pain, which only lasts minutes to about three months – and in rare cases, six months.
  • Chronic pain can be steady or intermittent, persisting for months or years.
  • Neuropathic pain is caused by nerve injury or injuries to the nervous system.
  • Nociceptive pain is triggered by harm to body tissue.
  • Radicular pain happens when your spinal nerves get squeezed or inflamed.

Most pain symptoms are treatable.

Depression Risks

You can be depressed at any age, but it often starts in adulthood. We know that depression can now happen in children and adolescents, though it’s sometimes characterized by irritability more than low feelings. If you had high levels of anxiety as a child, you’re at greater risk of chronic mood and anxiety disorders as an adult.

Risks may include:

  •     Personal or family record of depression
  •     Big life changes, trauma, or stress
  •     Certain illnesses and medications

What Is Ketamine?

Ketamine, pain and depression have a long, interconnected history dating back to the early 1960s. At that time, the medicine was used solely as a pre-surgical anesthetic – gaining fame for treating wounded U.S. combat troops in Vietnam – before scientists discovered it had other curative applications. By the end of the decade, ketamine had become a sought-after option for reducing not only symptoms of physical pain but mental health issues that wouldn’t respond to conventional therapy.

The Connection Between Depression And Pain

Pain and depression are inextricably linked. Depression can trigger pain and pain can lead to depression, resulting in a vicious circle that is hard to break free of. Sometimes the circle makes the pain worsen the symptoms of depression, leading to depression, making feelings of pain even worse. For many people, depression results in unexplained physical symptoms like back pain or headaches. This is often the kind of pain that is the first or sole warning sign of depression. 

If you experience pain and its resultant problems, then you know it can beat you down over time and alter your mood. Chronic pain is likely worse, causing many problems that can trigger depression, such as problems sleeping and ongoing stress.

According to study results published by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, “pain and depression are closely correlated from the perspectives of both brain regions and the neurological function system, whereby chronic pain may lead to depression. One of the important causes for chronic pain leading to depression appears to be the crucial effect of common neuroplasticity changes on the occurrence and development of the two disorders in question. Nevertheless, current efforts in this field fail to sufficiently and explicitly explain their connection. Further investigations into the common neuroplasticity changes shared by pain and depression are warranted to promote the identification of new drug targets and to free patients from chronic pain-induced depression.”

Fortunately, many symptoms linked to mental illness (depression, bipolar disorder, etc.) and chronic pain conditions can be managed.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Diagnosing pain and depression normally depends on:

  • A physical examination to rule out a medical cause for your pain or depression symptoms.
  • A psychiatric assessment to understand your thoughts, feelings, behavior, and personal or family history of mental illness.

If your symptoms have a psychological component, your healthcare provider will compare them to criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders before recommending treatment.

Treatment may include pain medicine, psychotherapy, or ketamine infusion therapy.

Final Thoughts

If you suffer from ongoing pain or depression, don’t let the symptoms control your life. If ignored, pain and depression can lead to even worse physical and mental health conditions. The good news? Once symptoms are recognized, they can often be treated with ketamine to improve your quality of life. Contact us today to learn more.