Researchers and clinicians have known for a long time that pain and depression are associated. Each condition is a risk factor for the other. But no one is sure exactly how the two are linked, and research continues.
The fact that researchers don’t fully understand the relationship between pain and depression doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do. At Family Acupuncture and Wellness, our team of experts can suggest strategies and lifestyle interventions that can help you live with less pain, ease your depression, and limit your risk factors for one or the other.
The chicken and the egg
One of the unknowns when it comes to the relationship between pain and depression is determining which comes first, rather like the chicken and the egg question. People with depression have a heightened sensitivity to pain, and people with chronic pain can develop feelings of inadequacy, sadness, isolation, and depression.
Once you’re in a situation where you’re in pain and you’re depressed, it’s easy to fall into a vicious cycle where one condition feeds the other. In those circumstances, it really doesn’t matter much which came first.
Scientists are working to learn more about the link between depression and pain, because a deeper understanding often leads to improved treatments. One recent study in the UK found that the more chronic conditions a person has, the more likely they will develop depression.
Another group of researchers found that if you have both depression and chronic pain, it’s less likely that antidepressants will be an effective treatment. Both of these findings have an important implication: physical health and mental health are the same, and shouldn’t be separated into separate boxes.
When you find the root cause underlying your problems, you can begin to address them — and find some relief.
When it comes to treating chronic pain or depression, our team believes in using a whole-body approach. We provide functional medicine services, which focus on the root cause of a problem, instead of focusing on relieving symptoms. Once you address the underlying cause, the symptoms begin to resolve as well.
Your specific treatment plan is based on your unique situation. It’s likely to include lifestyle changes, dietary adjustments, supplements, acupuncture, massage, an exercise plan, or other treatments designed to address the root cause of your problem.
If you’ve been living with depression, chronic pain, or both, schedule an appointment at Family Acupuncture and Wellness. We’re always happy to answer your questions, and look for the path forward, allowing you to live your life to the fullest.