Depression is a nasty and emotional condition that has your world turned upside down. Your emotions are constantly wreaking havoc, not to mention the doctors constantly trying different antidepressants on you. That has been my life for about three years now.
I was on Zoloft, then Effexor, and finally found Lexapro to actually work. About five four months ago I found myself the happiest I have ever been and started to forget taking the antidepressants because I didn’t need them. Since I was 17, I have also been a sufferer of knee instability that started to get progressively worse as I grew older. At my recent orthopedic surgeon visit, I was told that the pain that I am feeling is getting worse because of my depression. My obvious response was “what depression?” I have been happy. Turns out that depression, based on my doctors is a life long condition and is amplifying the knee pain. Still not convinced, I decided to do some research on my own… and this is what I found out.
It is agreed that when you are in pain and the pain interferes with your daily life, you can find yourself feeling depressed. Researchers have found that many patients that begin antidepressant treatment say that they get a lot of headaches, arthritis, and back pain. The main antidepressants that were tested in this theory were Paxil, Zoloft, and Prozac.
There is also a backwards theory that because pain can be depressive all in itself, people that already have chronic pain are at a higher risk of developing mood or anxiety disorders. Both depression and pain center on the nervous system. The brain is supposed to redirect any pain so that it can concentrate on other things in our lives, but when the brain fails to do so, the nervous system feels the full effect of the pain and sometimes it is intensified.
When you suffer from depression, many tend to hide from the world and isolate themselves from the outside causing a ruthless cycle of depression feeding on more depression as you think about what is making you depressed. If you are also in physical pain, a lot of times your isolation and your fear of moving will cause even more pain… again, another cycle.
Even though that is what they (doctors) say, many of you in this situation may be saying no, that’s not how I feel, and I completely concur. The statistics sound convincing, but after you’ve been a sufferer or a veteran of going through depression, you begin to realize what your brain is feeling and start to analyze and define certain symptoms on your own. Even though depression goes through its stages, you become well attuned to it.
Pain, in my opinion can be seen as the same way. When you have the same aches and pains for so long you get used to it, and know how to describe it to a tee. When a doctor tells you that the pain really isn’t that bad, it’s just the depression that is doing it, many tend to get a little upset.
Here is the reality. Whether or not the pain is caused by the actual pain or depression symptoms amplifying it, the pain is still there and it needs to be treated and taken care of. In all actuality, both conditions need to be treated in order to be successful. Many doctors choose to treat both conditions with the same types of medication. Almost every medication used to relieve anxiety, fatigue, depression and most mood stabilizers have ingredients that will help in easing pain.
Even though you may be taking antidepressants, this will not stop the depression and the pain. Talk to your doctor about the possibilities of physical therapy, the exercises done at physical therapy sessions will help to make your painful areas stronger and increase your ability to move them, and it also helps relive depression. Physical Therapy helps to relive depression by getting you out into the world and interacting with other people, people who are sympathetic to your situation and can understand what you are going through. Physical Therapists became physical therapists because they wanted to help people, and well, if you are going through pain and depression like I am, we need the help.
You may also want to talk to your doctor about possibly seeking behavioral therapies where you can learn how to deal with depression better and even get rid of those feeling and thoughts that go along with depression.
I personally don’t feel comfortable seeking a psychiatrist, spilling my deepest thoughts and feeling to a stranger who has no idea who or what I’m about doesn’t seem appealing to me and for many people going through depression, they agree. In this case, turn to a best friend, or a family member, someone you can trust who doesn’t judge you or jump to conclusions. Talk to someone who you can tell anything to. My best friend is my own emotional therapist whom has helped me sort out and organize and get rid of some tough thoughts and feelings. Sometimes you don’t need to pay hundreds of dollars for mental or emotional support, a lot of times it’s just a friend away.
Another way to ease the stress, pamper yourself. Indulge in a fudge sundae, soak in a warm bubble bath, curl up with a book by a warm fire, or just relax with a hot cup of tea. Sometimes the simplest of methods go far.
In conclusion, pain and depression do go hand in hand in many instances. Make sure that your doctor is aware of any and all symptoms, and even though he’s the doctor and should know the best treatments for you, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are the right ones. You are in your body, he isn’t. So do some research for yourself and always ask questions. It’s your life; make sure you are comfortable with the steps you need to take to make you better.