A leading chiropractor suggests depression could be the most common emotion associated with chronic back pain.
Medically known as major depression or clinical depression, the mental symptoms that patients experience go beyond normal feelings of sadness that everyone encounters from time to time. Clinical or major depression is more likely to be diagnosed in patients suffering from chronic back pain than those who experience acute or short-term problems. A reputable team of chiropractors explain that being aware of the host of symptoms associated with chronic back pain goes a long way to understanding why depression sometimes develops.
For many patients living with long-term back pain, being able to get a good night’s sleep is close to impossible. This can lead to fatigue and irritability during the day which can arouse continuous feelings of negativity. Difficulty with movement and physical activity can also mean many of those suffering from chronic back pain feel isolated, which can be contributory to depression. If the patient is unable to work, financial difficulties may impact the entire family and consequently put additional strain on relationships.
When evaluating the link between chronic back pain and depression, indirect factors should also be taken into account. Beyond the daily pain that many patients feel, there may be gastrointestinal discomfort brought on by anti-inflammatory medication and a general feeling of mental fogginess due to pain medications. It is also not uncommon for the distraction of constant pain to cause difficulties with memory and concentration.
A study by Strunin and Boden (2004) evaluated some of the indirect consequences of chronic back pain. Patients involved in the study reported a wide range of limitations on personal and social roles including physical restrictions that hampered their abilities to undertake household chores, take care of their children, and take part in leisure activities with their partners. The research revealed that partners and children often took over family responsibilities once carried out by the patient suffering from back pain. As expected, these role changes often led to anger and depression among the back pain patients and to strain within family relationships.
The symptoms of major depression may include the following (lasting for at least two weeks):
A predominant mood that is depressed, sad, blue, hopeless, low, or irritable, which may include periodic crying spells
Poor appetite or significant weight loss or increased appetite or weight gain
Sleep problem of either too much (hypersomnia) or too little (hyposomnia) sleep
Feeling agitated (restless) or sluggish (low energy or fatigue)
Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities
Decreased sex drive
Feeling of worthlessness and/or guilt
Problems with concentration or memory
Thoughts of death, suicide, or wishing to be dead
If you or someone you know is suffering from these symptoms then it’s crucial that you speak to your GP.