How Can Depression Cause Physical Pain?

How Can Depression Cause Physical Pain?

You have frequent headaches and body pain and seem weak at inopportune times. You’ve also noticed sleeping and eating problems have become a regular fixture in your life, and even small tasks demand supreme effort. What’s going on? Your pain and other symptoms may be caused by depression.

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.

Diagnosis & Treatment

If you have pain and low moods, the first step in getting better is seeing a healthcare professional for diagnosis and learning about possible treatment options. A medical doctor will perform a thorough physical examination to look for an underlying cause for your pain and treat it accordingly. You may also be referred to a mental health specialist for a psychiatric evaluation. The goal is to determine if thoughts, feelings, personal or family medical history, behavior, and other triggers are causing depression. In some cases, physical pain and depression symptoms can be treated concurrently with psychotherapy, self-help, diet or exercise, or ketamine infusion therapy.