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Dr. Grinstead On Understanding Depression For Effective Chronic Pain Management

September 2, 2014 by Steve Grinstead

Many people living with chronic pain develop an automatic and unconscious way of coping with chronic pain that I call the chronic pain trance—I know I was there in my early years. While I was in this trance what helped keep me stuck was my depression. It forced me to finally reach out and get therapy and medication management. Please watch my video below and then read the remainder of my post.

 I found I needed to be very proactive with the non-medication based tools I learned in therapy. Today when I start feeling some depression or developing depression thinking I go back to my tool box and practice what I teach to my patients.

Depression is one of the common of coexisting disorders for someone living with chronic pain. Unfortunately, the depression can sabotage a chronic pain management plan and chronic pain can intensify depression. Another problem is when the depression doesn’t get identified and treated. So how do you know if depression is a problem? Please check out the list below and if you have as many as four or five of these you should see a mental health professional who understands depression.

Symptoms of Depression

A significantly depressed mood or general absence of mood: You may sometimes find yourself feeling overly negative and down or at other times emotionally cut off.

Inability to experience pleasure or feel interest in daily life: Things that used to excite or interest you now hold no attraction at all. Sometimes it hardly seems worth getting up.

Inexplicable crying spells, sadness and/or irritability: You may find yourself crying for no reason or having a temper tantrum and lashing out without any provocation.

Insomnia (difficulty sleeping) or hypersomnia (oversleeping) nearly every day: You either can’t get to sleep or stay asleep and/or find yourself spending most of your time sleeping to the point of missing important events in your life.

A substantial change in appetite, eating patterns or weight: You find that you have no appetite and nothing sounds good so you just don’t eat, or in an effort to feel better you discover that eating certain types of foods seems to sooth you. You either loose or gain a significant amount of weight.

Fatigue or energy loss: You seem to be always tired or don’t seem to have enough energy to accomplish even simple tasks of daily living.

Diminished ability to concentrate: You find that paying attention is very difficult you may even find yourself reading the same page over and over or forgetting the plot of a movie you are watching.

Difficulty making decisions: You can’t seem to decide what to do even in simple areas that used to be easy for you. You tend to procrastinate or put off having to decide.

Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness: At times you feel like your life is always going to be unbearable or that you don’t deserve to be happy or successful.

Inappropriate feelings of guilt or self-criticism: You find yourself putting yourself down for little things and feel bad about things that might not even really be your fault.

A lack of sexual desire: You have lost your interest and passion for being a sexual being. It either seems like too much of a hassle or you just don’t care anymore.

Suicidal thoughts, feelings or behaviors: You start having thoughts like “maybe I’d be better off dead,” or “I feel that life isn’t worth living.” You may even start thinking about ways you could kill yourself and even start developing a plan.

Seeking Help For Depression Management

If symptoms related to a depressive condition are interfering with your ability to do routine, day-to-day activities, then you should consider seeking professional help. There are currently a variety of highly effective interventions available for the treatment of depression.

The majority of depressive conditions can be treated with either psychotherapy (especially cognitive behavioral therapy) or medication but research studies have indicated that a combination of these interventions is usually the most effective form of treatment. There are also some types of depression that have a seasonal patterning where intensive Full Spectrum Lighting therapy is often effective in reducing symptoms. It should be emphasized that the majority of depressive conditions can be treated without hospitalization.

To learn more please check out my book, Freedom from Suffering: A Journey of Hope, where I devote an entire section on identifying and managing depression for more effective chronic pain management. Freedom from the suffering from depression and chronic pain is possible if you’re willing to do the footwork required.

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