Depression

How Chronic Illness and Pain Cause Depression

133 Million people in United States suffer from Chronic Illness.

By 2030, the number will rise to 171 Million. The worst affected age group (60%), by chronic illness will be of 18-64 years. Similarly,

32 Million people in this country suffer from Chronic pain.

65% of them are depression patients too. This article tries to understand how chronic illness and pain are closely linked to Depression.

Depression and Chronic Illness:

A chronic illness lasts for a very long period of time. In most of the cases, chronic illness cannot be cured. The patient is forced to follow certain health measures and make lifestyle changes. These steps along with the medication treats the illness and keeps it in check. But most of the people cannot cope up with the life style changes and find the regular health measures to be physically, mentally and emotionally taxing. This causes depression in chronic illness patients.

S.No. Chronic Illness Associated Depression Patients
1. Heart Attack 40-65
2. Parkinson’s Disease 40
3. Multiple Sclerosis 40
4. Cancer 25
5. Diabetes 25
6. Heart Disease 18-20
7. Stroke 10-27

Symptoms of Depression Caused due to Chronic Illness:

  • Feelings of Guilt or Worthlessness.
  • Tiredness.
  • Lack of Emotions.
  • Sleeping Disorder.
  • Unexplainable changes in Weight
  • Lack of interest in pleasurable activities.
  • Change in Food habits.
  • Preferring to remain alone.
  • Fatal thoughts like committing suicide

Depression and Chronic Pain:

Chronic pain are the type of pains which are severe, occur after certain time interval regularly and exist for a long period of time in a person’s life. Over this duration of time, their are undesirable changes in his lifestyle and health. Most of the time the doctors cannot explain the reasons behind this pain. The treatment available is rare, costly and do not guarantee total relief. This pain also has the tendency to spread itself to other parts of the body. Under these stressful circumstances and state of hopelessness a person gets depressed.

How Depression and Chronic Pain are closely linked:

Depression and chronic pain are biologically linked. The brain works with help of its cells called neurons. These neurons communicate with each other using signals. These signals are passed through cable like structures called the neurotransmitters. Chemical substances called hormones inside the brain generate these signals. It is learnt from research that the signals of depression and chronic pain pass through same neurotransmitters (cables).

Moreover restrictions in social interactions, dependence on others for personal needs, lack of productivity, burden of family responsibilities and Lack of sleep at night due to this pain further makes life difficult. This also increase the degree of depression in a chronic pain suffer. Research has found that chronic pain patients with depression experience more intense pain, have little control over their life and find themselves less adaptable to necessary life style changes.
Because of their close relation, chronic pain and depression are jointly treated.

Symptoms of Depression due to Chronic Pain:

  • Constant mood swings
  • Anger
  • Increased anxiety
  • Confused thinking
  • Low self-esteem
  • Family problems
  • Tiredness
  • Fear of injury
  • Financial tensions
  • Irritation
  • Legal disputes
  • Physical disability
  • Lack of interest in sexual activities
  • Sleeping disorder
  • Low productivity
  • Unexplainable Weight changes
  • Prefer being alone.

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