How Depression Can Increase Pain Sensitivity
Depression and pain sensitivity share a close relationship. In many cases the two are actually inseparable as depression causes pain and pain causes depression. Together they create a vicious cycle, so successful treatment requires that both the source of pain and the cause of depression are addressed simultaneously. This kind of treatment is only available at specialized clinics that are making great strides in treating both depression and chronic pain.
How Depression and Pain Work
The same neural pathways in the brain that transmit pain also govern the following functions:
- Anxiety response
- Stress management
- Waking and sleeping
- Impulse control
The neurotransmitters norepinephrine and serotonin are involved in these functions and in managing pain naturally. A healthy person’s central nervous system can handle a certain level of pain without limiting functionality. The brain naturally diverts attention away from pain in these people.
Depressed people often suffer imbalances in brain chemistry. They lack these critical brain chemicals and the result is that their sensitivity to pain increases. Additionally, people suffering from chronic pain often experience depression as well.
Complications of Depression and Chronic Pain
There are many ways that chronic pain and depression create problems both mentally and physically, especially in the following ways:
- Depressed people are less likely to seek treatment for their mental health
- People with chronic pain often become seriously depressed over time, so risks for self-destructive behavior increases
- People in pain engage in less physical activities, which can lead to or exacerbate depression symptoms
- Depressed people cope poorly with pain
- Depressed people seek more medical treatment for their pain, but are less likely to get help for their emotional disorder
- The risk of substance abuse greatly increases for individuals experiencing chronic pain and depression
Because depressed people often feel hopeless about their emotional and physical discomfort, they are less likely to seek proper treatment.
Treatment for Chronic Pain and Depression
The challenge that health care professionals face when treating depression and pain sensitivity is that one condition may mask the other. They must carefully examine each patient to design an individualized treatment plan that can fix the issues. Though each patient is different, these treatments tend to involve several of the following elements:
- Carefully administered pain medication
- Exercise programs to stimulate physical strength and to fend off depression
- Spiritual support
- Teaching new and healthy coping skills
- Nutritional counseling
- Sleep therapy
- Physical therapy or chiropractic care
- Massage therapy
You can recover from your issues if you seek professional help.
Help for Pain and Depression
If you struggle with depression and you are becoming increasingly sensitive to pain, please call our toll-free helpline as soon as possible. Our staff is standing by 24 hours a day to answer your questions and connect you with the best available treatment. Don’t endure the misery pain and depression any longer. We can help if you call us now.