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Can Depression Cause Physical Pain?

Can Depression Cause Physical Pain?

Depression is a mental health disorder characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest or pleasure in activities. While it is well-known that depression can cause emotional distress, it is less commonly recognized that it can also cause physical pain. In this article, we will explore the link between depression and physical pain and discuss the various ways in which depression can manifest as physical symptoms. Understanding the relationship between depression and physical pain can help those suffering from both conditions find appropriate treatment and relief.

What is Depression?

Depression is one of the biggest medical issues in America. It’s a mood disorder that triggers persistent feelings of sadness and a lack of interest in things you used to enjoy doing. Also known as clinical depression or major depressive disorder, it interferes with how you feel, thought processes, and behavior and has been linked to many emotional and physical problems and their resulting pain. Thankfully, the symptoms of depression and pain can be treated concurrently, often with ketamine therapy.

Chemical imbalances in the brain have long been suspected as a primary cause of depression, but the disease is more complex than that. Research tells us that depression doesn’t arise from too much or too little of specific brain chemicals but rather from a multitude of causes – like faulty mood regulation in the brain, genetic weakness, and stressful things in your life. Several of these ingredients intermix and result in depression. Chemicals are involved, but they’re part of a larger dynamic system that could contribute to mental health issues.

Symptoms of depression may include:

  • Feelings of emptiness or hopelessness
  • Anger, irritability, or frustration
  • Problems sleeping
  • Tiredness and low energy
  • Problems eating resulting in weight loss or weight gain
  • Anxiety, agitation, or restlessness
  • Slowed thinking, speech, or bodily movements
  • You may feel worthless or guilty, obsessing over earlier failures or self-blame
  • Problems thinking, concentrating, decision making, and memory
  • Preoccupation with death, suicide, suicidal ideation, or suicide attempts
  • Mysterious physical ailments, like back pain or headaches

Several risk factors can play a role in depression:

  • Biochemistry or differences in specific chemicals in your brain may contribute to depression symptoms.
  • Depression tends to run in families, so your genetics play a role. If you have a biological relative with depression, you’re at greater risk of having it sometime in your life.
  • Someone with low self-esteem, who’s easily overcome by stress, or is mostly pessimistic may be more likely to have depression.
  • Environmental factors.

Depression and Physical Pain

Pain and depression are inextricably linked. Depression can trigger pain, and pain can trigger depression. The presence of both can create a malicious cycle where the pain makes depression symptoms worse, and then the following depression amplifies feelings of pain. For many people, mysterious physical symptoms like back pain or headaches can be triggered by depression, and these may be their initial or the only sign that something’s wrong.

Pain and its resultant problems can wear you down overall and affect your mood, with chronic pain suspected of creating many problems resulting in depression, like problems sleeping and stress.

Someone with physical pain may experience low self-esteem due to employment or money problems or be restricted from doing the social activities and hobbies they always enjoyed. But depression doesn’t just happen because of an injury –it’s also common in someone whose pain can be traced to a health condition like diabetes, cancer, or heart disease.

The scientific connection between the two is well known, and symptoms of both should be treated concurrently to achieve remission, as documented by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. This is because both are influenced by serotonin and norepinephrine, with research showing that a positive outcome of depression remission could be linked to the lowering of painful physical symptoms. While many people can see a significant response to treatment, lingering symptoms may put them at greater risk for future relapse. The report underlines the importance of a treatment plan that addresses physical symptoms and core emotional symptoms for best, long-term results.

Final Thoughts

It is well-established that depression can cause physical pain and that physical pain can contribute to the development of depression. These two conditions are often intertwined and can be difficult to separate. It is important to seek help if you are experiencing both physical pain and low moods, as treatment for one condition may also alleviate symptoms of the other. This may include a combination of therapies such as psychotherapy, self-help strategies, diet and exercise, or ketamine infusion therapy. Contact us today to learn more!


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