Does Back Pain Have You Feeling Depressed?
Have you been in a funk, not understanding the reason for your bad moods and lack of energy? Are you isolating yourself from others because you never know how you will feel from moment to moment? Have you noticed that friends and family members have backed away from spending time with you? Is living from day-to-day becoming more and more of a burden, with no light in sight? If you have answered yes to any of these questions, you may be experiencing a medical illness known as depression.
Chronic pain and depression are two of the most common health problems that health professionals encounter, yet only a small percentage of studies have investigated the relationship between these conditions (Currie and Wang, 2004).
Stress and anxiety stemming from chronic pain, is frequently the source causing a major depression. Researchers estimate that depression and anxiety occur in 20% - 50% of patients with chronic pain (source - www.backandneck.about.com ). Major depression is thought to be four times greater in people with chronic back pain than in the general population (Sullivan, Reesor, Mikail & Fisher, 1992). In a recent study it was found that the rate of major depression increased in a linear fashion with greater pain severity (Currie and Wang, 2004). It was also found that the combination of chronic back pain and depression was associated with greater disability than either depression or chronic back pain alone.
There are key differences between chronic pain and acute pain. The nervous system processes chronic pain differently that acute or "immediate" pain. Acute pain occurs as a result of an incident or event, e.g. you fall down the steps and sprain your ankle. Chronic or "long term" pain happens over time and wears on the individual physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, often with no end in sight, causing the individual to feel more and more pessimistic. Pessimism is a persistent negative thought pattern, resulting in a sense of hopelessness, and severely damaging ones sense of well-being. Our emotions stem from our thoughts. When our "habit of thought" is negative, our emotions spiral downward, lowering our mood, energy level and spirit. In my opinion, depression, simply put, is an extension of pessimism.
The first step in changing these thought patterns and associated emotions is to understand what you are going through when experiencing a depression. The good news is you have the ability to make changes that will affect the way you feel and experience life on a day-to-day basis. Are you ready to release the depression and re-experience having fun, laughter and pleasure with your family and friends? Of course you are, so read on to begin shifting your life in an upward and more positive direction.
WHAT IS A DEPRESSIVE DISORDER?
A depressive disorder is an illness that involves the whole person; mind, body, spirit and emotions. It affects the way a person perceives himself as well as his perceptions of the world, resulting in pessimism, hopelessness, sadness and often times anxiety. Depression associated with chronic pain often stems from fear of not knowing how you will feel from moment-to-moment.
Common Myths about depression:
is a personal weakness
reflects laziness or unwillingness to actively participate in life.
is a diagnosis that is untreatable and incurable
These myths are unfounded and represent the opposite of the truth about depression.
HOW WIDESPREAD IS DEPRESSION IN THE UNITED STATES?
Depression affects men and women, young and old and individuals of all races, cultures, religions and incomes. Depression can occur at any age. Studies sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimate that approximately 6 percent of children ages 9 to 17 in the U.S., and 10 percent of American adults, or about 19 million people ages 18 and above, experience some form of depression every year. Although available therapies alleviate symptoms of depression in over 80 percent of those treated, less than half of these individuals receive medical intervention (NIMH fact sheet on depression and cancer, 2002).
WHAT IS THE PERSONAL IMPACT OF DEPRESSION?
is one of the most common psychological problems, affecting nearly everyone through either personal experience or through association with a depressed family member or close friend
often causes insomnia, leading to fatigue, and agitation
often leads to social isolation
frequently leads to less participation in life and less enjoyment of meaningful activities
can lead to job dysfunction and inability to work, causing financial difficulties
coupled with chronic back pain may cause gastrointestinal distress caused by anti-inflammatory medication, resulting in a feeling of mental "dullness"
can create memory and concentration difficulties
can cause a lack of interest in sexual activity, creating stress in one's intimate relationships
can interfere with significant relationships with family, friends, business associates, neighbors and co-workers
can limit one's ability to do household chores and care-taking of young children, resulting in spouses and older children taking over responsibilities that were once managed by the individual with depression and back pain
WHAT IS THE SOCIETAL IMPACT OF DEPRESSION?
is directly experienced by approximately 19 million American adults (many children also experience depression)
adversely affects the lives of 10% of the American population (source: Donald J. Franklin, Ph.D., www.psychologyinfo.com/depression )
intrudes upon the lives of millions of people throughout the world
is the leading cause of disability among developed nations, including the United States ( source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General – Executive Summary, 1999)
often reduces work productivity, attendance, efficiency and overall job effectiveness. The pessimism experienced by a depressed individual often leads to a lack of commitment, enthusiasm and ability to address details, which may lower the quality of one's work
lowers productivity and impacts our economy, resulting in an estimated $44 billion a year loss (source: Donald J. Franklin, Ph.D., www.psychologyinfo.com/depression )
ARE YOU DEPRESSED?
It is important to understand that depression and sadness are different. The death of a loved one, loss of a relationship, termination of a job, including retirement, will cause us to feel sad. Grief is a normal response to these situations. Individuals experiencing challenging times will often remark that he or she feels depressed. However, sadness, grief and depression are not the same. Feelings of sadness and grief will lessen with time while depression can continue for months and years, if untreated.
Does this seem like you?
Read the following list and put a check mark next to each symptom that you are experiencing:
I am really sad most of the time
I don't enjoy doing the things I've always enjoyed doing
I have difficulty sleeping at night
I often feel fatigued
Getting up in the morning is challenging.
I feel better as the day goes on compared to when I first awoke
My eating habits have changed: Generally, I eat more than usual or I eat less than usual
I have very little, if any, sexual energy
I am very forgetful throughout the day
I find it hard to focus on the simple things of life. Even counting change has become challenging
I often feel angry
I feel anxious, and fearful with no apparent reason
I prefer to stay alone rather than socialize
I feel pessimistic about life in general, and am not sure I want to continue living
I feel disappointed in myself
I feel bad (physically and emotionally) most of the time
I have thoughts about my death
I think about how I might kill myself