What is the link between Chronic Pain and Depression?

Tuesday January 18, 2022 |
What is the link between Chronic Pain and Depression?

What do you mean by Chronic Pain?

Before we discuss chronic pain, it is good to know about pain. Pain is an unpleasant sensation or a signal that lets you know about damage or deficiency in your body. This means when you get an injury or have any weakness; your brain releases signals known as pain.

Although the pain has several types per its discomfort level, two types are major. The first type is acute pain, while the second is chronic pain. Both types can be debilitating, and their symptoms may range from moderate to severe.

Difference between acute and chronic pain

Acute pain is short-term pain that can last up to three weeks or more. On the other hand, chronic pain is a long-term pain that you can experience longer than a month or life-long. Acute pain can be characterized by sudden but infrequent pain attacks, while chronic pain can be experienced around the clock or through frequent attacks.

People living with chronic discomfort are more likely to have depression or other psychological health issues.

chronic pain


Stats regarding the chronic pain

  • Researchers estimate that nearly 50 million adults in the U.S. deal with chronic pain and spend about $80 million on their health.
  • According to a health interview survey, chronic and high-impact chronic pain increased with age and was highest in adults aged 65.
  • In 2019, 20.4% of U.S. adults had chronic pain, and 7.4% had chronic pain that frequently affected work activities in the past three months.

What does Chronic Pain do to a person?

The experience of living with chronic pain can be very complex and annoying. There are several ways in which long-term pain can affect individuals, from their brain and body to their everyday lives.

However, there are many ways to deal with these negative impacts and overcome chronic pain. Even though it sounds challenging, there are even positives that can come from the experience of long-term pain.

What Causes Chronic Pain?

Conditions that cause long-lasting and widespread pain are, not surprisingly, often linked to chronic pain. Some conditions that can cause chronic pain;

  • Osteoarthritis: This kind of arthritis is generally the result of tear and wear on the body and occurs when the protective cartilage wears away.
  • Back pain: This discomfort may stem from muscle strains, arthritis of the spine, or nerve compression.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: This is an autoimmune disease that leads to painful inflammation in the joints.
  • Fibromyalgia: This is a neurological health condition that causes pain and tenderness in several parts of the body.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBW):

In addition to these conditions, certain other conditions like cancers can also lead to chronic pain. At the same time, some injuries like bone injury or a head injury can also be a reason behind chronic pain.

Chronic pain symptoms

People with chronic pain can often experience symptoms like;

  • Burning, aching, squeezing, shooting, stiffness, throbbing, tingling

However, Depression is also a significant symptom of chronic pain that I will discuss later in the blog.

Chronic Pain and inflammation

Chronic pain can occur because of several health conditions, including a disease or inflammation. Inflammation, in fact, plays a crucial role in a number of pain-causing diseases like arthritis and lupus.

Chronic Pain treatment

A number of treatment alternatives are available to manage chronic pain. Yet, professionals can help you treat your pain with the most suitable treatment option after evaluating your condition.

Here, I have mentioned some basic ways but most popular ways to treat your pain;

Medications and therapies

Most professionals implement a combination of both medications and physical therapies to manage your pain as soon as possible. They can ask you to take any of the following medications together with Meditation or physical exercise.

Medications may include;

  • anticonvulsants for nerve pain
  • corticosteroid
  • antidepressants like tricyclic antidepressants
  • muscle relaxers like carisoprodol
  • opioids like codeine or morphine
  • sedatives like Ambien, especially for the treatment of insomnia and pain

In contrast, some other ways are also there that can help you manage your chronic pain. Some of that non-medicinal ways may include;

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation: In this procedure, the doctor delivers small shocks through patches on your skin. Professionals believe this impulse can relieve your pain.

Nerve blocks: In this particular procedure, your doctor will inject an anesthetic near pain to reduce feeling in that specific area. This procedure can also provide diagnostic information and locate the source of your pain.

What is the Depression?


Depression is a mood disorder that is sometimes also known as major depressive disorder. This condition makes you feel a constant lack of interest in life and sadness. Although most people feel sad at the moment in their life, Depression is something more than a sense of sorrow.

When your sadness persists longer than several weeks and keeps you away from things you love, it might be Depression. This condition might be connected with a life event or a disease; professionals can diagnose it best.

What are the symptoms of Depression?

Although depression symptoms can vary from person to person, some of its symptoms are constant. You may be in Depression if you have any 5 of the following symptoms;

  • Your mood is sad for most of the time, especially in the morning;
  • You feel tired or lack energy all the time;
  • You feel worthless or guilty most of the time;
  • You can’t sleep, feeling symptoms of insomnia;
  • Find it difficult to concentrate or pay attention;
  • You often think about suicide or death;
  • You feel slowed down or restless, etc.

Other signs may include; 

  • Feel cranky and lose pleasure
  • Stop feeling hungry or empty feelings
  • Have aches, headaches, pains and other digestive problems, etc.

Some other signs and symptoms may also occur in case of extreme depression. You must consult with your doctor if you doubt you have Depression.

What are the possible causes of Depression?

Professionals have not pinpointed the exact causes of depression. They believe it may be a combination of several things like;

  • Brain Structure: People with this emotional disorder seem to have physical and hormonal differences in their brains from individuals without depression.
  • Brain Chemistry: Chemicals in your brain, also known as neurotransmitters, play a vital part in your mood/behaviour. When you have depression, it could be because of a disbalance of these chemicals.
  • Hormones: Your hormone levels change because of some medical procedures or other life-changing events that may be a reason for Depression. Medical procedures may include menopause, postpartum issues, pregnancy, and others.

The link between Chronic Pain and Depression

Yup, there is a link between chronic pain and Depression. In fact, Depression is the most common psychological health condition in people suffering from chronic pain. The connection between chronic pain and Depression often makes your situation and treatment even worse.

Stats regarding chronic pain and Depression;

  • According to the American Pain Foundation, nearly 32 million people in the U.S. have had chronic pain for longer than one year.
  • On average, 65% of depressed individuals have a type of pain.
  • From 25% to 50% of the population that have any type of pain are also diagnosed with Depression.

As a matter of fact, pain provokes an emotional response in every person. If you have or ever had any type of pain, you may also have Depression followed by anxiety. These symptoms are apparent with acute or short-term pain and do not lead to any severe complications.

But with long-term pain, you may frequently feel tense or stressed. Over time, stress can produce several emotional problems associated with Depression.

People who have chronic pain and Depression may experience symptoms like;

  • Anger, altered mood, chronic anxiety
  • Confused thinking, family stress, decreased self-esteem
  • Fear of injury, irritability, financial concerns, etc.

Are Chronic Pain and Depression and Anxiety Comorbid?

Yeah, they are. Chronic pain can cause both depression and anxiety over time. It depends on several factors like the mental state of an individual and the duration of their misery. In most cases, anxiety occurs in extreme chronic pain.

Combine treatment for Chronic Pain and Depression?

I have mentioned the treatment of both chronic pain and Depression earlier in the blog. Since both conditions are associated with each other, the above-given treatments can also help treat your pain and Depression. However, antidepressants are considered the best treatment for chronic pain and Depression.

Rest, your doctor will suggest after evaluating your condition and how your body reacts to the treatment.

Bottom Line

I don’t think I have left anything to describe in the bottom line. Still, if you are here to read the conclusion, I will say only one thing – chronic pain is a long-term discomfort that leads to several psychological issues. Depression is one of those. You can manage those using accessible tools and medications prescribed by your doctor.

Also, some physical therapies can help you manage your chronic pain and Depression in the best way. Remember that pain is a signal, not a disease or disorder, so make sure your medication also works on the root cause whenever you go for its treatment.

So, I think it’s enough for today; although I have mentioned most facts in the blog, please write in the comment box if something is missing or you have any questions.

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