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Can Depression Cause Pain In Back

Treatment Options For Chronic Pain And Depression

Depression and Back Pain

There are many treatment options that can provide relief from chronic pain and depression. Some include:

  • Talk therapy helps with changing patterns in thinking, teaches coping skills for existing symptoms and preventing future symptoms.
  • Stress reduction skills includes meditation, muscle relaxation, positive thinking and exercise.
  • Peer support provides emotional support for dealing with chronic pain and mental illness in a group setting.
  • In- or outpatient pain programs offer intensive, long-term support for severe chronic pain and depression. These programs typically include individual and group therapy, on-site medical support and education on reducing pain and stress.
  • Medication are prescribed by physicians to help combat symptoms. Analgesics and antidepressants are some of the most common medications for chronic pain and depression.

Back Pain And Depression

The Spine Health Institute observed that although back pain can lead to depression, depression can also cause back pain. Body aches are a common symptom of depression. Like those with anxiety, people with severe depression feel pain more intensely than those without. Some believe that depression can cause increased pain and inflammation.

Depression can also cause fatigue that can prevent those who have it from exercising. The lack of exercise can put added stress on the discs and joints in their backs, making them more susceptible to low back pain, injuries, and muscle strains.

The chemical processes and physical effects connected with clinical depression can add to the presence and severity of a persons back pain. From this standpoint, depression can also trigger back pain. William Deardorff, Ph.D., discusses at length the relationship between depression and chronic back pain.

Glutamate And Its Receptor Subtypes

In conclusion, neuroplasticity crucially affects the occurrence and development of chronic pain and depression and may involve the same brain structures, neurotransmitters, and signaling pathways. Through exploring the common neuroplasticity changes of these two disorders, new targeted therapeutic drugs should be able to be developed or these disorders’ common targets should be able to be identified for precise treatment of chronic pain-induced depression, which will surely contribute to the improvement of life quality and prognosis in patients suffering from these disorders.

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Treating Back Pain And Depression Requires A Thorough Approach

Those with depression seeking treatment for their back pain typically think if they can get rid of their back pain, they will also rid themselves of their depression. To some extent, that might be true. However, once you fully understand how interconnected depression and back pain are, it makes sense to treat both simultaneously. That is especially true for patients considering back surgery to give them the greatest potential for the best results.

Treatments for back patients also experiencing depression might include psychological counseling, relaxation training, and behavioral therapy. Furthermore, some medications can also reduce depressive symptoms and back pain because they work within the brain to boost their mood and pain perceptions.

Another way to treat depression and back pain together is through aerobic exercise, which stimulates serotonin levels in the brain and spurs the release of endorphins to relieve both depression and pain. However, you must always consult with a doctor before beginning an exercise program.

Depression Is Connected To Back Pain

A Troubled Mind &  Back

Living with chronic back or neck pain can lead to depression, feelings of stress, anxiety, sadness, and other mental health-related symptoms. Your spine specialist or pain medicine doctor may refer you to a psychologist and/or a psychiatrist. Referring you to a mental health professional doesnt mean your doctor thinks your pain in all in your head! Rather, he/she is taking a positive step in treating you as a whole personby treating both the physical and emotional pain.Living with chronic back or neck pain can lead to depression, feelings of sadness, and other mental health-related symptoms. Photo Source:

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Stomach Pain Or Uneasiness In The Abdomen

That sinking feeling in your stomach is one of the most recognizable signs of depression. However, when your abdomen starts to cramp, its easy to write it off as gas or menstrual pain.

Pain that worsens, especially when stress arises, may be a sign of depression. In fact, Harvard Medical School researchers suggest that stomach discomfort like cramps, bloating, and nausea may be a sign of poor mental health.

Whats the link? According to those Harvard researchers, depression can cause an inflamed digestive system, with pain thats easily mistaken for illnesses like inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel syndrome.

Doctors and scientists sometimes refer to the gut as the second brain, because they have found a connection between gut health and mental well-being. Our stomachs are full of good bacteria and if theres an imbalance of good bacteria, symptoms of anxiety and depression may arise.

Eating a balanced diet and taking probiotics can improve ones gut health, which may enhance mood, too, but further research is needed.

Digestive problems, like constipation and diarrhea can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. Often caused by food poisoning or gastrointestinal viruses, its easy to assume that gut discomfort stems from a physical illness.

But emotions like sadness, anxiety, and overwhelm can disrupt our digestive tracks. One 2011

Causes Of Anxiety Related Back Pain

There are many different issues that can lead to back pain, and it is helpful to speak with a doctor to determine what your cause may be. When anxiety contributes to back pain, it is believed thatthe cause of back pain from anxiety is mostly secondary – meaning that anxiety isn’t literally causing back pain, but anxiety is causing behaviors that lead to back pain.

There are many theories that describe a situation where back pain may be directly caused by anxiety. The most common is theory is that anxiety, which causes muscle tension, may be tensing muscles in the upper or lower back, and that that muscle tension causes pain in anxiety sufferers.

Massage therapists will tell you that their most stressed clients often have knots in their muscles, especially in their shoulder and upper back, so anxiety-related back pain really does exist.

But anxiety may also be causing separate issues that simply lead to back pain. These include:

Anxiety isnt believed to cause severe back pain. But its also important to remember that there is often a back pain cycle. Those with greater perceived back pain are more likely to over-adjust in an attempt to avoid the pain. Chiropractors see this often. A patient with mild back pain will make their back pain worse because they’re constantly walking, sitting, or twisting in ways that are unnatural in an attempt to reduce that back pain.

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What Is Depression & How Do I Know If Im Depressed

For a lot of people, its tough to admit to themselves and others that theyre not feeling their best. Its hard to reach out for help and sometimes can be tough to recognize the symptoms. The National Institute of Mental Health describes depression as causing severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working.

In order to be diagnosed with this mood disorder, the feelings of sadness, anxiety, exhaustion and other physical factors must last for at least two weeks. In other words, a bad day at work, temporary sadness , or feeling anxious about a new situation would not be considered depression. There are various types of depression, but all forms of depression carry symptoms lasting a couple of weeks or more.

How To Stop Anxiety From Causing Further Back Pain

How Neuro Inflammation Can Cause Chronic Pain & Depression

Under the assumption that your back pain is caused by anxiety, treating that back pain does require a focus on the pain itself. Unfortunately, while treating anxiety can reduce your back pain in the long term , breaking the cycle of back pain depends in large part on your ability to also fight the back pain itself. Consider the following tips:

These are all traditional ways to deal with back pain unrelated to anxiety, but they’re still effective because once back pain starts, it needs to be stopped using traditional methods.

But of course, controlling your back pain is only step one. You will still need to learn ways to cope with anxiety so that you can stop your anxiety back pain from occurring again.


Anxiety causes muscle tension, inactivity, changes in posture, and other changes that can all lead to back pain. The pain is real, so over the counter painkillers, stretching, and similar treatments might be needed to eliminate the pain. In the long term, it becomes important to stop the anxiety.

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It Is A Fact That While Back Pain May Trigger Depression Depression Could Also Trigger Back Pain

It should be noted that back pain is one of the major symptoms of depression. Studies have shown that persons who experience depression very frequently also have more intense back pain than others. Research has shown that depression enhances inflammatory responses and pain through the release of cytokines, a group of proteins that influences the actions of the immune system. The blood concentration of cytokines are higher in depressed people than in those who are not depressed.

Another means by which depression causes back pain is through fatigue. When you are fatigued, you are unable to exercise and move your muscles. Because of this, greater stress is added to the ligaments, the joints and the discs in the back, increasing your susceptibility to back pain, strains on the muscles and localised injuries.

In a nutshell, depression causes pain not directly, but indirectly by enhancing the chemical and physical processes that actually causes back pain.

Can Going To A Chiropractor Help With Anxiety

One stressor causing physical pain and ailments leading to the cause of more and different conditions are the kinds of things chiropractors look for to get to the root of your problems. Chiropractors have many tools at their disposal besides spinal adjustments, such as massage therapy, magnetic resonance therapy designed to reduce the symptoms of chronic stress, lifestyle advice, and more.

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Chronic Back Pain And Stress

When you suffer from chronic pain, you become mentally stressed. In turn, mental stress makes your muscles tighten up. It only makes the pain worse. Even acute back pain causes emotional stress. But when you suffer for a long time, your brain switches from pain processing to emotion processing. Its like your brain acts like a switchboard. Your brain needs a break from the ongoing pain. To cope, it unplugs from the pain processor and plugs in to the emotion processor. Clinical research shows this often leads toemotional disorders.

Low Back Pain & Depression

The link between stress and back pain

Mark Barnes of Telespine defines depression. He says that according to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression is a mental illness that is caused by factors including genetic, environmental and physical. Depression can interfere with your quality of life and often goes hand in hand with other disorders, like eating and sleeping disorders.

Telespine cites a study conducted in Australia that concluded 61,200 cases of low back pain could be attributed to depression. People with depression were more likely to suffer from low back pain. The more severe the depression, the more intense the pain suffered.

Lets look at the connection between back pain and depression. The Spine Health Institute says that it can be easy to understand while somebody who suffers from chronic back pain might also have issues with depression. Chronic back pain is a debilitating condition that often doesnt have a straightforward answer. This can lead to frustration, anger, and despair. Spine Health says that while its not hard to make the connection between back pain and depression, the other way around is lesser known but just as valid.

Body aches, such as low back pain, can be a common symptom of depression. Research has shown that people suffering from severe depression may feel pain more acutely than people who do not.

He defines this as a psychosomatic illness. Here is how stress causes back pain, as described through the Pain Cycle:

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What’s The Best Way To Manage Pain And Depression

Team up with a pain specialist or even your family doctor to create a treatment plan. When chronic pain and depression are combined, the need to work with a doctor is even greater.

As you develop a plan, keep in mind that the ideal pain management plan will be will have many parts.

There are resources that can help you, such as:

  • The American Chronic Pain Association
  • The American Pain Foundation
  • The Academy of Cognitive Therapy

Stay committed to the plan until you feel in control of your pain and depression and can fully live your life and do the things you enjoy.

Find a cognitive therapist near you with experience treating chronic pain. The above groups can help you find one.

Spiritual Meaning Of Lower Back Pain

The spiritual meaning of lower back painis fairly obvious. If you have back pain, it means you are afraid of losing your freedom.

Your spine is what supports your physical body. Any back pain caused by emotions, means you dont feel you have enough support from others. This lack of support also means you dont feel you are free to do what you want to do.

When the root chakra is emotionally blocked, you develop lower back pain, immune problems, depression, and varicose veins.

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Research: Patients Suffering From Back Pain Related To Depression Should Avoid Painkillers And Not Be Recommended To Spinal Surgery

As these studies show, depression and anxiety and their relationship to back pain can be a complicated subject for health care providers. What is the focus of treatment then? A second group of researchers from the University of Sydney published their findings that health care providers should be on the lookout for future episodes of back pain in depressed patients:

  • Individuals with symptoms of depression have an increased risk of developing an episode of low back pain in the future, with the risk being higher in patients with more severe levels of depression.

As we know, chronic back pain under conservative care may mean pain medications for as long as possible until such time that surgery will be recommended because pain medications are no longer effective.

What Are Some Important Statistics About Low Back Pain

Breaking The Pain-Depression Cycle – Southeastern Spine
  • Low back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide
  • Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work. In fact, back pain is the second most common reason for visits to the doctors office, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections.
  • One-half of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms each year.
  • Experts estimate that as much as 80% of the population will experience a back problem at some time in their lives.
  • Most cases of back pain are mechanical or non-organic this meaning they are not caused by serious conditions, such as inflammatory arthritis, infection, fracture or cancer.
  • Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on back painand that is just for the more easily identified costs. Back Pain statistics

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Physical Symptoms Of Depression


One of the most common symptoms of depression is the feeling of being constantly tired and drained.

While depression exhaustion can be mental, it often presents as a lack of physical energy.

This may occur as a result of low-quality sleep, especially for those that attempt to manage their depression with drugs or alcohol.

For some people, low quality sleep means insomnia and sleep deprivation, while for others it might mean sleeping constantly without ever feeling rested.

Alcohol adds to this effect by interrupting the REM cycle, causing the brain to miss out on the most restorative periods of sleep throughout the night.

Incessant fatigue makes working and socializing especially difficult, and can contribute to the sad and hopeless feelings that often accompany depression.

Fatigue may also cause a depressed individual to abandon their workout routine and become less active, which can exacerbate depression over time.

Aches and Pains

Depression can quite literally hurt. Just as when you have the flu and your body seems to ache all over, depression can cause mild pain and discomfort to amplify, becoming severely distracting and debilitating.

Because our brains are responsible for producing the sensation of pain, poor mental health can cause inappropriate responses to varying degrees of pain.

Research has confirmed that depression lowers pain tolerance, intensifying pain that would otherwise be manageable.

Digestive Issues


How Does Talk Therapy Help

In cognitive therapy, a person learns to notice the negative “automatic thoughts” that surround chronic pain. These often are distortions of reality. Some time with a therapist can teach you how to change these thought patterns and make you feel better.

It’s also a proven treatment for depression and can reduce symptoms of anxiety in those with chronic pain.

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Easy Tips To Relieve Stress

Stress affects the body in a variety of ways,from mood swings and headaches to weight fluctuations. However, an often overlookedside effect of stress is neck and back pain. Over time, repetitive bouts ofstress can cause musculoskeletal issues in these regions of the body.

When we get stressed out, the body naturally releases certainhormones. Adrenaline is associated with the ancient fight or flight phenomenonthat heightens our blood pressure, increases our blood supply, and causes themuscles around our spine to tense and spasm in case we need to flee the sourceof the stress. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone it interferes with avariety of functions. Elevations in cortisol can lead to loss of muscle massand increases in fat accumulation.

“Stress affects the body in a variety of ways, from mood swings and headaches to weight fluctuations. However, an often-overlooked side effect of stress is neck and back pain. Over time, repetitive bouts of stress can cause musculoskeletal issues in these regions of the body.”

Kavita Trivedi, D.O.

Data suggest that adults know stress affects their spines. Online survey participants ranked the No. 1 perceived cause of their neck and back pain as follows:

  • Stress: 29 percent
  • Spinal disc herniation: 21 percent
  • Sitting at a desk at work: 20 percent


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