Back Pain, Depression & Mental Anguish

When you suffer from chronic back pain, particular without identifying a source for the pain, you may begin to feel as though it’s all in your head. Several studies have shown that long term chronic back pain can have certain psychological effects on sufferers. Back pain can sideline you from your normal activities including sports, hobbies and socializing, which can lead to feelings of isolation.

While you long for your back pain to lessen so you can venture out into the world, it seems that the rest of the world gets participate in every activity they desire without regard to a little thing like back pain. While you’re on a daily regimen of painkillers and take regular visits to the physical therapy, your friends and family go dancing and rock climbing—things you can’t.

The truth is that millions of people suffer from short-term and long term back pain. It’s quite common so there is no need to feel isolated from the world. With regular treatments—both chemical and natural—you can do most things you do on a daily basis. In fact common treatments like exercise can get you back in the social mix even quicker. 

Depression is another way in which back pain can cause mental anguish. Even short term back pain can lead to temporary feelings of helplessness, general melancholy and outright depression. Part of the reason is the feelings of isolation and part of it is the helplessness of being in constant pain and unable to alleviate it.

But back pain that accompanies psychological issues can cause a cycle of depression and inactivity. When you feel depressed, it is common to also feel fatigued, helpless and anxious. These emotions generally cause back pain sufferers to relax their back pain treatment by skipping doctor’s appointments or ignoring their pain regimen.

Guilt is another common emotion of those with chronic back pain. You may feel as though asking for help is asking someone else to take on your burden, but you’re not. Don’t let those feelings of guilt hinder the healing process or it will become an unbreakable cycle that leaves you depressed and aching.

If you have been suffering from back pain for three months or more, psychological counseling can help. In fact, combining psychological treatment with back pain treatments can help the healing process. The more you understand that you are not alone in your pain, the more motivated you will be to continue the treatments that will heal your strained muscles or seek out nontraditional treatments like acupressure.

How Do You Know?

So how do you know if you’re just feeling ‘down in the dumps’ or if you are genuinely feeling mental anguish? Honestly self-diagnosing is difficult, but if you feel as though your emotions are unusually strong then seek out a counselor or therapist to help you process your emotions in a positive manner.

The answer to help you deal with mental issues related may be therapy with a professional but it may also be a pain management support group. Support groups can help because it allows you to interact with others who are suffering just as you are. It will help motivate you to continue your pain management treatment as well as allow you to share your feelings with others who understand your suffering.

Exercise is a great way to help heal your back and improve your mental state. Physical activity releases endorphins that give you feelings of euphoria. That “runners high” long distance runners speak of is simply a case of endorphins release. What’s great about endorphins is they make you feel good and they dull your sensitivity to pain in the aftermath of a good workout session.

Combating negative feelings related to chronic back pain is a matter of understanding that you are not alone, but part of a much larger group who understands your plight. 

Filed Under: Back Pain
Written By:  Updated:
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Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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