Depression is usually associated with a person’s mental or emotional state. Many people suffering from depression also experience issues with their physical health, including chronic pain. The physical symptoms of depression need to be addressed appropriately as well, for the individual’s overall health and well-being.
One of the most common mental health illnesses, depression affects about 26% of adults, or about 17 million people, in the US. Although it is a mental health disorder, it also affects an individual’s physical health.
Everyone feels sad or anxious at different times in their life. If these feelings continue for more than two weeks, they could be signs of a depressive disorder. Depression, when left untreated, can seriously impact a person’s daily life and can cause a ripple effect of additional symptoms. Depression can affect how an individual feels mentally as well as physically. Major depression is a serious medical condition that can have a dramatic effect on a person’s quality of life.
Common Symptoms of Depression
Each person’s symptoms will vary, depending on their specific situation, but generally depressive disorder will change how the individual is able to function on a daily basis. Symptoms typically last two weeks or longer, for a diagnosis of depression, and can include:
- Lack of interest in activities
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Lack of concentration
- Hopelessness or guilty thoughts
- Changes in appetite
- Loss of energy
- Changes in movement (less activity or agitation)
- Physical aches and pains
- Suicidal thoughts.
Physical Pain and Depression
Vague aches and pain are often among the first symptoms to present in depression. In fact, an individual may seek treatment for these physical aches primarily, which can make the depression more difficult to diagnose.
The connection between depression and physical pain can be one of cause and effect, where one condition causes the other. It can also be a biological connection that involves the fact that neurotransmitters, including serotonin and norepinephrine, influence both mood and pain. When the individual feels physical pain when suffering from depression, there could be a chemical reason.
Typically, the worse the symptoms of physical pain, the more severe the depression. In fact, physical symptoms of depression have been found to increase the extent of the depressed mood in a person. A study of chronic pain as a predictor of a depression diagnosis found that those people who reported at least one key symptom of depression and who had a chronic painful physical condition reported a longer duration of depressed mood than those individuals who did not have chronic pain.
Physical Symptoms of Depression
The mental and emotional symptoms of depression can include overwhelming grief, sadness, and a sense of guilt. Most people feel a sense of hopelessness or emptiness. These symptoms can cause physical reactions such as bouts of crying.
Other physical symptoms of depression can include headaches, joint pain, back pain, stomach issues, sleep disturbances and tiredness. Depression can also cause chronic pain and it can also be worsened by the presence of chronic pain. Often, depression and physical pain can create a vicious cycle for the individual suffering from both conditions.
Chronic Pain and Depression
Depression can be an effect of certain neurological diseases such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease. Conditions such as chronic joint pain can also cause an individual to become depressed. The pain can wear a person down over time, affecting their mood. Other symptoms, such as lack of sleep and the stress associated with chronic pain, can also lead to depression.
Chronic pain affects over 75 million people in the US every year. Many turn to painkillers to manage their symptoms and can become addicted, particularly as they may need higher doses of the medication to achieve the same effect.
An effective pain management program such as Hemet Valley Recovery Center’s Chronic Pain and Addiction Treatment Program is effective in helping to manage the mental and physical symptoms of depression as well as an addiction to prescription opioids often associated with an individual’s attempts at pain management.
Mental Health and Addiction Treatment at HVRC
Understanding and recognizing the signs of depression can mean the difference in your mental and physical health. If the illness has led to a substance use disorder, it is especially important to get the right treatment for both issues. The professional team at Hemet Valley Recovery Center focuses on your needs as you face unique psychological, medical, and social challenges in your life.
Please contact HVRC for help beginning a journey of recovery. We invite you to take the first step toward healing with our dedicated team of professionals.