If you’re dealing with depression with chronic pain, you’re not alone. An estimated 85% of people with chronic pain also suffer from severe depression. Anyone who suffers from both of these debilitating conditions knows that each day can feel like an uphill battle, but there are steps you can take to manage your symptoms.
The Link Between Pain and Depression
Chronic pain and depression often go hand-in-hand. The two are closely related, and for a variety of reasons.
Pain and Mood Regulation Share Neurotransmitters
The nervous system is highly complex, but its circuitry can help us understand the intimate relationship between depression and pain. Pain signals use some of the same neurotransmitters that regulate your mood, including norepinephrine and serotonin.
When these pathways fail and pain becomes intense, it can also intensify feelings of hopelessness and sorrow. When your body is stuck in a constant state of fight or flight, it takes a toll on your body. Eventually, your body is unable to produce enough cortisol and neurotransmitters.
Chronic pain can also change the way that your nervous system functions, creating a vicious cycle. Increased pain can lead to deeper depression, which only leads to more pain – and the cycle continues.
Not surprisingly, medications used to alleviate depression and anxiety, such as benzodiazepines and mood stabilizers, can also help with the pain. Antidepressants also have analgesic effects, and that’s because they affect brain pathways that affect both pain perception and mood.
4 Tips to Manage Life with Chronic Pain and Depression
Unfortunately, there’s no easy cure for depression or chronic pain. However, there are steps that you can take to manage your symptoms.
Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, is a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. Unlike THC, CBD does not have psychoactive effects (it won’t get you high), but it may help ease pain and depression.
One study found that CBD could be useful for treating depression and that the compound positively affects serotonin receptors. A review from 2018 also found that several studies show CBD having antidepressant and anti-stress effects in animal models.
Our Inner Warrior+ Cream is formulated with full-spectrum CBD and other ingredients that are shown to help with pain, such as magnesium, DMSO, MSM, and essential oils, while also providing a much-needed mood boost.
It’s not uncommon for people with depression to also feel relief from chronic pain when taking antidepressants. In fact, it has been a standard practice for more than 50 years to prescribe antidepressants for pain.
There are three classes of antidepressants:
- Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors: These medications boost norepinephrine and serotonin levels.
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors: These medications slow down the reuptake process to increase serotonin levels.
- Tricyclics: These medications make more norepinephrine and serotonin available for your brain while blocking acetylcholine (another neurotransmitter).
Although not the right choice for everyone, antidepressants can address symptoms of depression and pain to bring some relief.
Meditation is an ancient practice that can help you better manage your symptoms of depression and pain. While it’s not a cure, meditation changes the brain and can also affect your response to pain and stress.
The goal of meditation is to sit with your thoughts and allow them to pass without judgment and without dwelling on them. You simply accept your thoughts and feelings and then let them go.
In this way, meditation can help disrupt the vicious cycle of negative thinking that can contribute to depression.
Research from 2016 has found that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (which incorporates meditation) can help reduce the relapse of depression. Research has also found that meditation can improve symptoms of depression if you make the practice a part of your everyday routine.
In addition to helping with depression, meditation may also help ease the pain. A study from 2018 found that meditation changes the brain, thickening areas associated with pain.
Meditation can also trigger your body’s natural opioid system. For example, in one small study from 2016, one group was given an opioid blocker and the other was given a placebo and used meditation to help with the pain. The placebo group experienced greater pain relief than the group taking the opioid blocker.
While more research is needed, the results thus far are promising. Meditation is a safe practice, so it can’t hurt to incorporate it into your daily routine.
4. Stress Management
Managing stress can help with both depression and pain. Along with meditation, you can also try:
- Deep breathing
- Making sure that you’re not overcommitting
Sometimes, just saying “no” can go a long way in reducing the amount of stress in your life. Putting too much on your plate can result in you feeling overwhelmed.
Many people suffering from chronic pain also suffer from chronic depression. Now that you understand the relationship between these conditions, you can take steps to better manage your symptoms.
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This cream gives you the boost you need to stop the cycle of pain and depression, so you can get back to living life the way you were meant to. Finally, feel free to achieve your goals and make lasting memories with the people who mean the most.