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Chronic Pain and Depression

Posted Oct 03 2008 11:31am

Living with constant, chronic pain can leave a person exhausted both physically and emotionally. Not being able to ’see the light at the end of the tunnel’ can really take a toll and most often leads to depression.

A downward spiral begins of ‘pain & depression’ because of the pain you get depressed and this leads to more aches and pains this in turn leads to a deeper depression… and ARGHHH make it stop!

I’ve gone through this a few times, especially at the beginning of my diagnosis with Rheumatoid Arthritis. It’s not only hard for the person who is faced with pain and depression, but also on their close family and friends.

My first step was recognizing the symptoms of depression. I was experiencing more fatigue than usual, losing interest in doing anything let alone the things I really loved doing. I couldn’t concentrate very well, I was very irritable, I didn’t want to do anything, see anyone, I was just plain miserable. This had to be depression.

Great! I have constant aches and pain from Rheumatoid Arthritis and now depression. The cause though, was the way I was relating to the pain of the arthritis. I felt defeated, it was unfair, I felt alone and frustrated. If I felt and thought that way, of course it was going to become reality to me. So, the first step was to change my way of thinking and to find some help.

I accept the fact that I have RA but I do not accept the fact that RA has me. Yeah, it sucks, but why shouldn’t it happen to me? It’s what I have been dealt in life, and I will make the best of it and do what it takes to make my life as full as possible. What’s next?

I went to a Naturopath doctor for some advice on how I was feeling and she gave a lot of great tools and information. First was the fact that common depression is not the cause of a chemical imbalance. Low serotonin (the ‘happy’ chemical) levels are a result, not a cause, of depression. Exercise gets the serotonin pumping, so I walked, and then walked even more. Vitamin D was a major role too. Since I found that winter was tougher than any other season- and who gets a lot of sun light in the winter?- I boosted my Vitamin D intake, which helped immediately. With my energy up, it took very little time to get my feet back underneath me and the depression crept back under it’s rock.

It’s easy to say I’ve got a handle on depression right now, it’s August, I’ve just spent 8 hours in the warm sunshine. But, I know how to recognize it and have the weapons now to send it packing. I’ve made future plans for the Fall and Winter to keep physically active with a close friend, take extra Vitamin D, use my husband’s daylight lamp and even take a sunny vacation. If those things don’t quite fit the bill, I’ll head back to the Naturopath doctor.

If you feel that you suffer from depression, I urge you to talk with a doctor as soon as possible, especially if you have thoughts of suicide. There is a lot of help and information for you. You’re not alone in this.

Do you have any experience or information to add? Please feel free…

Follow along my Aud Life of Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis (C)Copyright All Rights Reserved

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