Back Pain and Depression: An Interrelated Relationship

Back Pain and Depression: An Interrelated Relationship

Studies have shown that the more severe the episode of back pain, the more likely suffers of chronic back pain can experience symptoms of depression.

Patients with chronic back pain often demonstrate signs of depression because the severe intense pain will increase patients’ stress levels, prevent them from eating, sleeping or being active.

The effect of the pain often discourages suffers from hobbies or social activities that they would normally enjoy, taking a toll on a patient’s emotional wellbeing. Chronic pain patients should also be aware that some pain medication can contribute to symptoms of depression.

The type of depression that often presents with chronic pain is referred to as major or clinical depression. This type of depression exceeds what is considered to be normal sadness or simply feeling “down” or “blue” for a couple of days. Clinical depression is thought to be four times greater in people with chronic back pain than those who do not experience chronic pain.

foSymptoms of clinical depression will occur consistently for at least two weeks and include the following:

  • Predominantly feeling sad, hopeless, or irritable that is accompanied with the need to cry often.
  • Having a poor appetite or substantial weight loss, or vice versa having an increased appetite and extensively gaining weight.
  • Feeling restless, agitated, fatigued, and having low amounts of energy.
  • Experiencing a loss of interest in activities you would normally enjoy.
  • Noticing that your sex drive has decreased.
  • Experience trouble with concentration and your memory.
  • Feelings of guilt and being worthless.
  • Having suicidal thoughts.


How does depression manifest in patients with chronic pain (how does your chronic back pain lead to symptoms of depression):

Often the pain makes it difficult for a patient to sleep, which will lead to you being fatigued and irritable during the day. Patients with chronic back pain can experience difficulty with movement, often move very carefully and slowly so they do not aggravate their symptoms. Patients may also need help to be mobile, resulting in patients being isolated, feeling like burden or inconvenience, and often spending more time at home away from others. This is not healthy for a patient’s overall wellbeing.

Patients who experience trouble with movement and concentration because of the severity of the pain are often unable to work, causing financial strain, which could increase your stress and anxiety levels.  Chronic pain can affect a patient’s personal relationship, libido, resulting in emotional stress and increased anxiety.

It is understandable to see why the symptoms that accompany chronic back pain can result in you feeling irritable, hopeless, and depressed. However, there is help available and at Osteovision a practitioner can help you with information on how to seek help.


A few tips to manage depression:

  • Reach out and stay connected, to get support from your friends and family, so that you do not withdraw and isolate yourself from social interactions.
  • Do something that makes you feel good. To manage your stress, set a limit on what you are able to do and make sure to schedule fun activities weekly so that you have something to look forward to.
  • Take a stroll in the sunlight. Sunlight is known to improve your mood by boosting your serotonin levels.
  • Stop thinking negatively. Depression gives you a negative outlook, so take a moment to reflect the positive moments that happened during your day.