Those suffering conditions that produce prolonged bouts of chronic pain are more prone to developing depression. Constantly having to deal with pain on a day to day, hour to hour or even minute to minute basis can have a profound effect on a person’s psyche and mental state. Extreme frustration, anger, helplessness and hopelessness may develop in patients who have to undergo living with any disorder, illness or injury that has left them in a state of pain.
Pain may interfere with a person’s ability to perform regular routines and activities of daily living. As the pain progress in severity and intensity, the person may experience depression as they may no longer be able to function the way they want or expected to. Feelings of uselessness may creep up. Depression for chronic pain patients does not really occur overnight. It usually starts with characteristics such as crying and depressed moods until it eventually develops and manifests the symptoms of major depression which includes anhedonia or the inability to experience any pleasure, lack of appetite for food and inability to sleep at night or insomnia.
Chronic pain may also cause depression if the source of the pain, illness or disorder, has a risk of death associated with it. Most terminally ill patients say that they are living each day in fear, feeling as if they might die the next hour or so. Cancer, for example, is one illness which can cause long term pain. The risk of developing depression among cancer patients is very high as patients may feel that the time for their death is looming. In most cases, this fear of death leads to long term depression and apprehension.
Another condition known as phantom limb pain, the pain sensation from an amputated extremity, provides chronic pain which results to long term depression. It is experienced by a number of post operative patients, no matter what age, gender and race. What makes phantom limb pain worse is it is psychological in nature. It is usually managed by placebo drugs. However, physicians also prescribe pain medications as the “phantom “pain is considered as something real by the patient. Fibromyalgia sufferers also are at an elevated risk of developing clinical depression.
Can Depression Make Pain Worse?
Pain can definitely makes depression worse, however, some studies have also shown that depression can actually make pain worse. When a patient with chronic pain experiences depression the psychological symptoms can disrupt proper eating and sleeping routines and brain cells do not function properly as well. This can interfere with the brain’s ability to produce natural pain killing chemicals, making the pain sensation more severe and intensified.
The best way to prevent depression associated with chronic pain is through early and effective pain management methods. Pain medications are usually given round the clock to prevent any pain sensation to the client. Handling the physical pain symptoms can significantly reduce the propensity of depression from occurring. However, even if pain management methods are being performed, patients may still develop depression. Antidepressant medications and other therapeutic pain managements are usually indicated for patients who are already experiencing depression to prevent progression of the condition.
Before taking any type of antidepressant it is important to inform the prescribing physician of all other medications being taken to avoid any dangerous drug interactions. If prescribed any type of depression medication it is also important to take the dosages outlined by the doctor. Any side effects are problems should be reported immediately.
It is important for any patient that has suffered an injury (back, neck, bone etc.) illness, or health condition that has left them experiencing pain on a regular basis to be aware how it can also affect their mental state and puts them at a higher risk of developing depression or other mental health disorders. Pain can be debilitating, both physical and psychological, and often times improving one can help improve the other. Communication with your doctor is always key and it can be extremely beneficial to inform them of not just your physical pain but of the mental toll it may taking on you as well.