Home > Depression Issues > Depression and Pain

Depression and Pain

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 22 Jun 2012 | comments*Discuss
Depression Pain Worse Perception

Depression can go hand-in-hand with pain. One of the problems with pain, however, is that doctors may believe it’s all in the patient’s head, especially where a mental health disorder such as depression exists.

In other instances, it is assumed that the depression stems specifically from physical pain. The physical pain could be occurring for any number of reasons. It might be associated with anything from trauma to a long-term disability or illness.

Depression Worsens Pain

But a new study suggests that it can also be somewhat of a grey area. Where real physical pain exists, depression can make that pain much worse.

How Pain Occurs Alongside Depression

New research shows that it can be very much a combination of the two. We already know that depression and pain can occur at the same time but we have not really known exactly why this happens.

Brain Imaging for Pain and Low Moods

Researchers wanted to find out how exactly pain and depression can interact. They used brain imaging to look at healthy volunteers and how they responded to pain when they were emotionally ‘down’ and feeling low.

Increased Perception of Pain

Results of the study showed that where a person had a depressed mood, a part of their brain circuitry that manages emotions was disrupted. Their overall perception of pain was enhanced.

What it means is that if a person is sad from negative thoughts or a negative environment, they tend to process pain on a more emotional level. Ultimately, they ‘feel’ the pain more than a person who has happy, positive moods.

More Pain if You Suffer from Depression

The consequences are far-reaching because it suggests that people who are depressed will suffer from pain more than if they managed their depression and had elevated moods each day. Their low moods somehow disable their ability to regulate the impact of pain and a key in the future will be to find out if we can use medications or other treatments to intervene.

Where we know that pain sometimes preceding depression, this study suggests that depression makes the pain worse. It makes finding the right treatment for your depression more important than ever.

What it Means for Chronic Pain

Researchers want to take these study results and look at the exact mechanism whereby a person suffers from chronic pain. People who deal with chronic pain are more likely to suffer from depression, which then could make managing depression more challenging. The hope is that we can find more targeted and effective treatments. This way, we can help relieve depressive symptoms and perhaps operate on the pathways involved in the pain response to lessen the effect.

Relieving Pain and Depression

For those who suffer from depression and deal with real physical pain on a daily basis, it can be especially frustrating to find a treatment that works. Fortunately, researchers are giving this important area the attention it deserves, which will hopefully lead to more insight and treatments to help people who suffer from physical pain and depression.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • OvercomeDepression
    Re: Depression After an Abortion
    ED - Your Question:I've just turned 25 and I've had 2 abortions. I also have a son who is 3. And is the most amazing person in my…
    14 November 2017
  • OvercomeDepression
    Re: Insomnia Caused by Depression
    corey - Your Question:Hello and im corey and im 40 years old. Ive been experiencing sleep difficulties for the past 2 weeks. To…
    23 October 2017
  • corey
    Re: Insomnia Caused by Depression
    Hello and im corey and im 40 years old. Ive been experiencing sleep difficulties for the past 2 weeks. To this day Im unable to…
    20 October 2017
  • Laura
    Re: Depression After an Abortion
    I had medical abortion a Week ago today. Feeling very emotional ?? and anxious ?? got to go back to Hospital in 3 days for…
    17 October 2017
  • Rosey
    Re: Depression After an Abortion
    Hi, I had an abortion at 13 weeks and it was fifteen weeks ago I thought it was my only decision and it's the biggest regret of my…
    12 October 2017
  • OvercomeDepression
    Re: Avoiding Negative and Thinking Positive Thoughts
    Bix - Your Question:What do you do when depression floors you so bad that you feel you cant talk? It has…
    2 October 2017
  • Bix
    Re: Avoiding Negative and Thinking Positive Thoughts
    What do you do when depression floors you so bad that you feel you cant talk? It has left my mind blank…
    30 September 2017
  • OvercomeDepression
    Re: Depression After an Abortion
    J - Your Question:I didn't have an abortion yet but I'm going soon. I just found out that I'm pregnant with my boyfriend of 7…
    25 September 2017
  • Not Fine
    Re: Depression After an Abortion
    I had a medical abortion in March 2017 at 20 weeks pregnancy due to genetic issues in the foetus. My first child (10 yrs old now)…
    15 September 2017
  • OvercomeDepression
    Re: Depression After an Abortion
    :-( - Your Question:I had a surgical abortion 10 weeks ago I would of been 16 weeks pregnant this week. I am heartbroken at what…
    15 September 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the OvercomeDepression website. Please read our Disclaimer.