At some time in our lives we will all experience pain; physical and/or emotional discomfort caused by illness, injury, or an upsetting event. Though most of us would rather avoid it, pain does serve an actual purpose that is good and seen as protective. For example, when you experience pain your brain signals you to stop doing whatever is causing the pain, preventing further harm to your body.
Pain, however, is not meant to last for a long time. Pain that typically lasts less than 3 to 6 months is called acute pain, which is the form of pain most of us experience. For some people, pain can be ongoing or go away and then come back, lasting beyond the usual course of 3 to 6 months and negatively affecting a person’s well-being. This is called chronic pain or persistent pain. Put simply, chronic or persistent pain is pain that continues when it should not.
Chronic pain is often associated with other health conditions such as anxiety and depression, resulting in a low health-related quality of life. Here, we are providing 25 useful ways in overcoming chronic pain and depression.
Assessing the dilemma
1. Early diagnosis of depression
Talking to a physician about symptoms of depression, while still in the acute pain phase of pain, can alert a physician to the need to consider treatment of both conditions.
While one patient may demonstrate a full recovery from the initial episode of pain, a patient who is more prone to or shows signs of depression and stress, or who has a history of clinical depression may be more vulnerable to developing a chronic pain problem that persists beyond the initial acute pain complaint.
An informed physician can suggest a treatment plan early on that treats the patient’s depression as well as their physical pain, giving the patient the best chance at a positive outcome. It is advisable to talk to a doctor if any of the following common symptoms of depression are experienced.
2. Identify triggers
Identifying stress triggers or emotional triggers that affect the pain is the first step in helping manage pain, at least in part, by avoiding or eliminating specific stress triggers. Patients can monitor how their own stress and anxiety affects their back pain by keeping a diary of when their back pain changes and what kinds of stress could be triggering the pain. This exercise can provide and identification of the elements in one’s life that affects the pain.
Recognizing how stress affects pain provides the ability to lessen pain without pain medications some level of empowerment over chronic pain.
3. Communicate with others
Depression and an emotional reaction to chronic pain are to be expected; they are understandable.
Many patients do not speak to their physicians about their depression because they believe that once the initial pain problem is resolved, the depression, anxiety, and stress they are feeling will go away.
Talking to a physician about feelings of depression will keep the physician better informed and better able to provide appropriate care. Getting simultaneous back pain and depression treatment will give the patient a better chance of a full recovery.
4. Seek multi-disciplinary care
A multi-disciplinary course of treatment that involves involving both a physician and a mental health professional can often provide the best outcomes.
With a team approach, both the pain problem and the depression are monitored simultaneously, and both doctors can communicate about how each area affects the other.
It’s important for physicians to understand that changes in the physical symptoms of pain can also be related to changes in a patient’s mental state.
5. Eat balanced diet
A balanced diet supplies the nutrients your body needs to work effectively. Without balanced nutrition, your body is more prone to disease, infection, fatigue, and low performance.
A balanced diet is a diet that contains differing kinds of foods in certain quantities and proportions so that the requirement for calories, proteins, minerals, vitamins and alternative nutrients is adequate and a small provision is reserved for additional nutrients to endure the short length of leanness and you will feel in good health to treat chronic pain associated with depression.
6. Get sleep
Sleep deprivation can disrupt our cognitive functions and exacerbate depression and anxiety. Excessive stress can make it hard to sleep at night, so it’s so common for people going through stressful situations to suffer from chronic pain and depression.
It would help if you tried to sleep and wake up at the same time every night and day so your body can develop a habit of going to sleep every night even when you can’t stop thinking about your problems that are causing you to feel stressed out. Try not to look at your phone before you go to sleep and take a warm shower before jumping into bed.
7. Exercise to fight chronic pain
There’s an abundance of research that regular physical activity boosts mood and alleviates anxiety, but less evidence about its impact on pain.
Aerobic exercise, performed at the intensity recommended for maintaining heart and respiratory fitness, improved overall well-being and physical function in patients with fibromyalgia, and might alleviate pain. More limited evidence suggests that exercises designed to build muscle strength, such as lifting weights, might also improve pain, overall functioning, and mood.
8. Peer support
Many people find that support groups for chronic pain, mental illness, or both can provide both emotional support and psycho-education. If there isn’t an in person group in your area, consider looking online for support.
9. Relaxation training
Various techniques can help people to relax and reduce the stress response. Stress tends to exacerbate pain as well as symptoms of anxiety and depression. Techniques include progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, and mindfulness training.
10. Set realistic goals
Goals often differ for acute and chronic pain, but still focus on prevention, pain relief and function. Goals for pain management should be specific, measurable and patient-centered. It is both unrealistic and undesirable to cast no pain as a treatment goal.
11. Volunteer yourself
Volunteering to help others, especially regularly over time. Taking on a giving role can change self-perceptions and boost mood levels.
Empowering with strength to combat chronic pain
12. Lighten yourself
Increasing time spent outdoors during daylight can help prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), as can the use of a light box. Depression is linked to insufficient Vitamin D levels, which can be boosted by regular exposure to UV light.
13. Stress management
Avoiding excessive stress, especially chronic stress. Of course, all stress cannot be avoided. Small projects that bring on temporary stress are preferable to massive undertakings that bring on long-term, chronic stress.
14. Spiritual healing
Prayer, meditation, or spiritual study seems too boost mood and sense of well-being. Spiritual healers believe that the therapeutic effect results from the channeling of healing energy from an assumed source via the healer to the patient.
15. Avoid negativity
People who suffer from chronic arthritis pain and depression may want to steer clear of TV shows and other media with negative themes. In one study, experts interviewed many older adults who reported that watching TV shows with negative themes contributed to a deteriorated mood.
16. Feel moved by fascination
Treat the senses to rich and meaningful forms of beauty, such as listening to music, spending time outdoors, or participating in the arts. It is important to choose activities that appeal to one’s unique interests and passions. If there is a lack of interest, there will be a lack of motivation.
17. Go with flow
Keeping occupied, preferably with something that allows one to experience flow in the work. Researchers have found the arts, crafting, and performing home repairs, for example, can stimulate the neurological system and enhance overall health and feelings of well-being.
18. Inpatient and outpatient pain programs
More intensive programs can provide immediate and long-term support when depression and/or chronic pain is severe. These programs typically provide onsite medical support, individual and group therapy, and psycho-education for reducing stress and pain.
19. Anti-depressant medication
A variety of antidepressants are prescribed for both anxiety and depression. Some of these also help alleviate nerve pain. The research most strongly supports the use of serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) or tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) as double-duty drugs that can treat both psychiatric disorders and pain. The findings are more mixed about the ability of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to alleviate pain.
All drugs may cause unwanted effects. SSRIs, for example, may increase risk of gastrointestinal bleeding. TCAs can cause dizziness, constipation, blurred vision, and trouble urinating. Their most serious side effect is a dangerously abnormal heart rhythm, so these drugs may not be appropriate for people with heart disease.
20. Mood stabilizer
Anticonvulsants are also sometimes used to stabilize mood. These medications exert their effects by constraining aberrant electrical activity and hyper-responsiveness in the brain, which contributes to seizures. Because chronic pain in particular involves nerve hypersensitivity, some of these medications may provide relief.
21. Stress Reduction Skills
Stress management or skills can include exercise, muscle relaxation, meditation, positive thinking, etc. Therapists, pain specialists, physical therapists and others can provide recommendations to fit the needs and interests of the patient.
22. Talk therapy
Talk therapy can help an individual change patterns in thinking, learn coping skills for symptoms, and help prevent future depressive symptoms.
23. Pain rehabilitation program
Pain rehabilitation programs, typically provide a team approach to treatment, including medical and psychiatric aspects.
24. Cognitive behavioral therapy
Pain is demoralizing as well as hurtful. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is not only an established treatment for anxiety and depression, it is also the best studied psychotherapy for treating pain. CBT is based on the premise that thoughts, feelings, and sensations are all related. Therapists use CBT to help patients learn coping skills so that they can manage, rather than be victimized by, their pain.
During this therapy, a clinician helps a patient achieve a trance-like state and then provides positive suggestions; for instance, that pain will improve. Some patients can also learn self-hypnosis. One study showed that hypnosis training reduced both gastrointestinal distress and levels of depression and anxiety in 71% of those studied.
Chronic pain isn’t just a physical condition, it’s an emotional one as well that has tremendous influence over a person’s thoughts and moods. People with chronic pain may isolate from others or be unable to achieve mobility they once had. Psychotherapy is the best solution to sort out chronic panic issues and depression.
Moving forward with Psychotherapy
Fortunately, Ahealo.com offers a global ePsychotherapy platform that allows clients to book an online anonymous private appointment with a broad skill range of psychotherapists at an affordable cost and desired schedule.
Alternatively, if you need to seek psychotherapy, be sure to check out ahealo.com. Ahealo is an online psychotherapy platform with a diverse range of psychotherapists for many different fields of mental challenges. Ahealo provides ePsychotherapy at an affordable price, confidential, convenient (through a web page 1-1 private video call), and at your comfortable schedule.
With these options, we believe your chronic pain and depression issues can be resolved soon.