It’s easy to understand why sufferers of chronic back pain experience depression. Pain wears us down, keeps us from exercising, and throws us off of our daily routines and social activities. All of these take a toll on our emotional well-being, especially if nothing seems to be working to relieve the discomfort. Some medications for pain can also contribute to the symptoms of depression and can even cause anxiety.
While chronic back pain can cause depression, depression can also cause back pain. Body aches are a common symptom of depression. Some studies have suggested that depression causes increased pain and inflammation via proteins known as cytokines, which are known to affect immune system responses to infection and disease and appear to be present in higher levels in depressed patients. The lack of motivation to exercise or follow a routine when we’re depressed can also lead to body aches, particularly lower back pain because of weakened core muscles.
Both of these situations require comprehensive treatment and care. Treating the pain may require emotional counseling and guidance. Another key to treating depression and low back pain is regular aerobic exercise, which stimulates serotonin levels in the brain and releases feel-good endorphins to relieve both depression and pain. While you should always check with your doctor prior to beginning a new exercise program, the benefits that proper exercise offers in terms of reducing stiffness and pain, strengthening core and back muscles, improving flexibility and boosting a person’s mood and self-esteem are indisputable.
I suffer from scoliosis and chronic lower back pain. My yoga practice changed my life in many ways. It’s kept my core muscles strong and encourages mindfulness in my daily life, keeping me from getting wrapped up in worry and thoughts. Regular massage can also relieve the symptoms of pain and depression. One of the reasons I became a massage therapist was to aid in the struggle of both of these and offer hope.
The spine is an amazing structure containing over 120 muscles, 220 ligaments, and over 100 joints. It has 3 very important functions - it supports the body’s weight, provides flexibility for movement, and forms a protective surrounding for the spinal cord and nerve roots. It is the main pathway of communication between the brain and the rest of the body. Of course there is a connection between back pain and depression, treating the two together can lead to the path of wellness.