Archive for February, 2011

The Link Between Depression and Pain

Hand over eyes

If you’ve suffered from depression or been close to someone who has lived with it, you’re familiar with the emotional effects of the disease.  However, you may not know that sometimes physical pain in the body can be caused by or worsened by depression.

In a recent article in Massage Today, Rita Woods writes:

You’ve probably seen the TV commercial with the slogan: “Depression Hurts”. It’s an advertisement for a medication used to treat depression. Pain and depression are closely related. They share many of the same neurotransmitters and nerve pathways. Major depression and chronic pain can become a vicious cycle.

via Chasing the Pain, Part 2.

So what can massage do to help?  Rita Woods explains the details in her article in wonderful detail, but here are a couple of bullet points I pulled out:

  • Massage has shown to reduce stress and anxiety
  • Because some of the same neurotransmitters are involved in depression as in the sensation of pain, disruption of that normal pattern through depression can result in greater pain and discomfort
  • Massage can, at least indirectly, assist with the pain through reduction of stress and cortisol (stress hormones) in the body

If you have unexplained pain that seems to worsen when you experience some of the symptoms of depression, take time to talk to your primary health provider and find out if you need to consider treatment for depression in addition to management of the chronic pain through other means.  It’s always a good idea to have your health provider partner with you when you’re dealing with a serious condition like depression.

If you’d like to try massage as a way to relax and destress as part of your mental health regimen, just call my office in Louisville for a massage.

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