The Link Between Mental Health and Back Pain

Some medical professionals suggest depression could be the most common emotion associated with chronic pain. Medically known as major depression or clinical depression, the mental symptoms that patients experience go beyond the normal emotions of sadness that everyone feels at some point or another. Clinical or major depression is more likely to be diagnosed in patients suffering from chronic back pain than those who experience acute or short term problems with their backs. This article explains how being aware of the host of symptoms associated with chronic back conditions goes a long way to understanding why depression sometimes develops.

For many patients living with long-term back discomfort, being able to get a good night’s sleep is close to impossible. This can lead to fatigue and irritability during the day which can contribute to continuous feelings of negativity and low mood. On top of that, there is the possibility of not being able to take part in activities with the family, which again, can leave the patient feeling low, disconnected and isolated.

The points below highlight some of the main reasons why back pain can often lead to depression:

  • Chronic back conditions can make it difficult to sleep which can lead to extreme tiredness, irritability and frustration during the day.
  • Back pain can cause some people to become inactive movement which results in spending a lot of time at home. This can lead to the patient feeling socially isolated and unable to enjoy regular activities with friends and family.
  • If a patient is unable to work due to their back problems, financial stress and strain may have an impact on the entire family.
  • Gastrointestinal problems may arise as a result of taking anti-inflammatory medication. Some patients suffering from back issues also report “brain fog” or feeling mentally “dull” as a result of pain medications.
  • Many back pain sufferers lose interest in a physical relationship with their partners, which can put more stress and strain on relationships.

Contact your GP or medical professional if you are experiencing long-term back problems and any of the following symptoms:

  • Regularly feeling depressed, sad, irritable or hopeless
  • Crying for no obvious reason or crying more than usual
  • A reduced appetite or unusual weight loss
  • An increased appetite or unusual weight gain
  • Sleeping difficulties – either sleeping too much or too little
  • Low energy and fatigue
  • Agitation
  • Reduction or loss of interest in usual hobbies/ activities
  • Reduced/ diminished sex drive
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Lack of concentration or memory problems
  • Suicidal thoughts (contact 999 immediately)