Chronic pain often results from serious injuries caused by negligence. Unfortunately, chronic pain can also lead to further issues such as depression. In fact, people with chronic pain are three times more likely to suffer from depression than the general population, and as many as 50% of people with chronic pain suffer from anxiety and depression.
A Vicious Cycle
The relationship between pain and depression is symbiotic: pain causes depression, but depression can also cause pain. This creates a vicious cycle for people suffering from chronic pain and depression —a cycle that can be completely debilitating.
According to the Mayo Clinic, depression itself can manifest as pain (such as back pain, headaches, or chest pain), with the sufferer unaware of the true underlying cause. On the other hand, living with chronic pain will wear down those suffering from symptoms. Over time chronic pain leads to reduced sleep, increased stress, and results in other mental health issues such as anxiety.
The symptoms of chronic pain and depression may impact your ability to be involved in relationships, maintain employment, or participate in activities you enjoy. The mental anguish and financial hardships that these secondary issues produce can cause further depression, stress, and anxiety.
Symptoms of Depression
Depression can manifest in a number of ways. We’ve already touched on the fact that it can produce or amplify pain, but people who suffer from depression may also experience:
- A feeling of sadness, hopelessness, desperation, or irritability
- Lethargy or otherwise being ‘slow’ and unmotivated
- Sleeping too much or too little
- An inability to focus
- Reduced mental capability and memory loss
- A loss of interest in things you care about (anything from sports to hobbies to your family and friends)
- Thoughts about death and suicide.
Many people who suffer from injuries and chronic pain focus only on getting better physically, but it is just as important to spend time nurturing your mental health.
What to Do
If you think that you are suffering from depression as a result of your chronic injury (or chronic pain caused by depression) there are some important steps that you should take:
- Talk to someone: You can talk to a friend or family member at first, but you should visit a healthcare professional as early as possible.
- Build a support network: Reach out to the people in your life who matter, let them know how you feel, and ask for their help.
- Avoid triggers: Try to avoid triggering a depressive episode by removing potential triggers from your life.
Once you have reached out to a personal and professional support network there are treatment options available including:
Exercise: Exercise can help reduce stress, alleviate symptoms of depression and release endorphins.
Therapy: Talking to a psychiatrist, counsellor, or psychologist can do wonders for your mental health.
Stress reduction: Yoga, massage, long baths, exercise, practising coping skills, painting, and many other activities can help improve your mood and reduce stress.
Medication: In some cases, medication may be the best solution. Only your doctor can prescribe medication which is why it is important to reach out to them as soon as you suspect something is wrong.
Chronic Pain, Depression, and the Law
Depression can be just as debilitating as any other health issue. If your depression was caused (or made worse) by chronic pain or personal injury resulting from negligence, you have the right to pursue compensation. At Zayouna Law, we specialize in personal injury litigation. Give our team a call at 1-866-929-6862 or contact us for a free consultation!