Are Depression and Pain Linked?

Those with mental health conditions will often experience aches and pains; those affected by physical health problems such as chronic pain will often suffer with depression. As you can see, depression and pain are intricately linked. In fact, the two often go hand-in-hand, causing a vicious cycle that can be hard to break. According to the American Psychiatric Association, chronic pain and mental health problems can contribute to and exacerbate the other.

What is Depression

Depression is often used to describe a feeling of sadness, but it is much more than that. Most people who feel down or sad will feel better within a few days, but those who have depression can feel like this for weeks, or even months. Some people cannot even pinpoint why they are feeling so hopeless.

Depression can affect quality of life, with those affected often losing interest in things they used to enjoy. They may not feel like doing anything at all and would rather just stay at home than socialize with others.

For some individuals, the symptoms of depression are mild, for others they can be severe, and some people even feel suicidal. The symptoms of depression can include, but are not limited to:

  • anxiety
  • feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • loss of interest in normal activities or hobbies
  • lack of energy
  • trouble concentrating
  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite
  • cravings for food
  • restlessness
  • irritability
  • suicidal thoughts
  • unexplained aches and pains

When people feel depressed, they often don’t have the energy or motivation to get up and move about. They do not exercise or enjoy any of the hobbies that they used to enjoy. This lack of movement can cause weak and stiff muscles, which can lead to aches and soreness.

While there are those that lose their appetite when depressed, others eat more, which inevitably leads to weight gain. There is a direct link between obesity and chronic pain.

What is Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain is pain that lasts for more than twelve weeks. In some cases, the pain is the result of an injury or surgery which for most people would go after a few weeks. Some individuals continue to feel pain for months after the injury or operation. Chronic pain is also common among those with health conditions such as arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, multiple sclerosis (MS), diabetes, and fibromyalgia.

It is not hard to see how people with ongoing pain would begin to feel down and suffer with depression. Pain that occurs every day or for prolonged periods at a time can be hard to deal with, especially when it is not responding to treatment.

How to Cope with Pain and Depression

The physicians at Salt Lake City pain clinic KindlyMD believe that a tailored treatment plan is the best way to help people manage their chronic pain and depression. It can be hard to break the cycle but with a combination of medication, lifestyle changes, and complementary therapies, dealing with these co-occurring conditions should be easier.

Sometimes, talking therapies can be hugely beneficial for those dealing with both chronic pain and depression. Individuals with mental health problems often bottle things up and hide how they are feeling. Communicating with others can help patients to open up and often it is easier to do this with strangers than it is with family members or friends.


Those with depression often experience unexplained aches and pains, and persons who are regularly dealing with pain often end up with depression. There is a definite link between the two and it is not enough to treat one without the other. Thankfully, there are treatments for both, such as medication, changes to lifestyle, and complementary therapies.

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