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Chronic Pain Syndrome & Depression

Chronic pain makes everyday life extremely difficult for sufferers and, as a result, many go on to develop depression. Learn more in our blog.


Chronic pain syndrome is typically described as severe pain that has continued for more than 3 to 6 months. Unlike most pain which eventually subsides after some time, chronic pain is constant and debilitating. As a result of these painful symptoms, many chronic pain syndrome sufferers often go on to develop depression in a never-ending vicious cycle. In this blog post, we discuss why it’s common for chronic pain sufferers to develop depression and give tips on how you can try to avoid it by improving your quality of life as a chronic pain survivor.

According to the NHS, chronic pain syndrome is one of the most significant causes of suffering in the UK. In some cases, chronic pain can be triggered or made worse by a traumatic event, such as an accident and, in these instances, sufferers may be entitled to chronic pain compensation. According to statistics provided by Web MD, an average of 65% of people who are depressed also complain of pain alongside their symptoms of depression. For those of you who do suffer with both chronic pain and depression, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone; depression is one of the most common psychological issues facing chronic pain patients and can often go undiagnosed/untreated for quite some time.

The Cycle

Chronic pain syndrome is excruciating and incredibly inconvenient, affecting the everyday lives of sufferers by making things that should be simple, extremely difficult. In turn, this results in a vicious cycle whereby patients also experience sleep disturbance, loss of appetite, a lack of energy, and decreased physical activity, all of which contribute to worsened pain.

When experiencing pain, we often have an emotional response and it’s not uncommon for us to experience high anxiety, irritability, and agitation due to our discomfort. Typically, pain eventually subsides along with the negative thoughts and feelings it carries with it, however for chronic pain syndrome sufferers, the pain is constant and so are the associated emotional problems. These emotional problems range from anger, confusion and fatigue, to fear of developing further injury, disturbances with sleep, weight gain (or loss), and social isolation.

The Overlap

The link between chronic pain syndrome and depression can be explained by biology; both conditions share some of the same nerve pathways and neurotransmitters, chemicals in the brain that act as messengers between nerves.

Psychologically, the severe pain caused by chronic pain syndrome is consuming, therefore many sufferers struggle to cope with everyday life and may experience tremendous losses, such as the loss of sleep, a specific relationship or income. Severe losses such as these would naturally lead to negative thoughts and, in turn, depression. When depression takes over, your coping skills are severely reduced – you may not be able to cope with stress as well as you once could through activities that may have worked in the past, such as exercise.

Patients who suffer with both chronic pain and depression often experience the following:-

a) More intense pain;
b) Less control over their everyday lives;
c) Unhealthy coping methods, such as excessive drinking.

How To Help

If you’re a chronic pain sufferer and want to know how you can try to avoid developing depression, there are certain things you can do which may be of some help. We must reiterate, however, that there is no way to avoid depression completely, so keep an open mind and be mindful that we cannot guarantee anything.

Symptoms of chronic pain syndrome and depression go hand-in-hand; symptoms of each condition aggravate the other, creating a cycle which is very hard to escape from. Identifying the triggers that increase your pain is a great place to start. If you reduce your pain, your outlook on life will improve and so will your mental health. You can reduce chronic pain symptoms by making changes to your diet, taking part in light exercise, and making changes to your working life.

If the above doesn’t work, communication is key. It’s important to surround yourself with supportive people when you’re having a bad day or just need somebody to confide in. As an alternative to loved ones, your GP is always available to discuss your problems and worries. Visit your doctor if you experience any of the following:-

a) You suddenly feel hopeless, sad or anxious and don’t feel like things could improve;
b) You’re beginning to find it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep during the night;
c) You have lost interest in activities you once found enjoyable;
d) Your appetite has increased or decreased slightly or significantly;
e) You don’t feel like you have energy and aren’t motivated.

If you have developed a chronic pain disorder as a result of an accident or injury, have you considered the fact that you could be entitled to chronic pain compensation? To discuss your specific case, call our expert team for free on 0808 123 0003 or fill in our online contact form.

We do not endorse any research, studies or sources mentioned within our blogs and comments. Furthermore, we do not endorse any medical advice provided, and would strongly recommend anyone seeking medical advice to contact their local healthcare provider.

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