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Back Pain and Depression: The Surprising Link

By Krista Elliott

Years ago, there wasn't much talk about depression, or other mental illnesses in general. A lot of people would forego treatment out of shame and fear that someone would find out and think that they were weak or "crazy".

Although we still have a long way to go in reducing stigma, things are improving. There is also more awareness about the link between mental health and physical illness.

One such link exists between depression and back pain. There is a common misconception that depression is just "in your head" and that the symptoms are solely emotional, such as persistent and prolonged feelings of sadness, irritablity, or hopelessness, a lack of interest in usual activities, and difficulty concentrating at school or work. 

However, people are now recognizing the mind-body connection, and are starting to understand that your mental well-being can affect your physical well-being, and vice versa. And this is commonly seen when it comes to back pain and depression.

The Link Between Back and Brain

So what is the relationship between chronic back pain and depression?

It depends on which arrived first, but inevitably, they become inextricably linked in a vicious circle. Constant and unrelenting back pain can make sleep elusive, increase your irritability and hinder your ability to concentrate and perform. The result? Strained interpersonal relationships and decreased job performance. 

As the stress and feelings of low self-esteem and worry increase, the chemistry in the brain reacts. Periods of prolonged stress can greatly increase the risk of developing depression.

And in a cruel twist of fate, one of depression's major physical symptoms? Back pain. 

A Vicious Cycle

This is when the difficult cycle can begin: The physical pain and depression put the burden on other family members to pick up the slack, which increases feelings of guilt, which makes the depression (and backache) worse. And exercising? It's hard enough as it is to get up the gumption to exercise when one has depression. When you're depressed AND in pain? Probably not going to happen.

Chiropractic: A Light at the End of the Tunnel?

If you're suffering from back pain and depression, chiropractic care should be a regular part of your self-care routine. By helping to relieve your back pain (and by giving you some "you" time where you're doing something good for yourself), chiropractic treatments at The Joint Chiropractic could help halt your vicious cycle. With a back that feels better, you may find yourself sleeping better, and feeling a little more able to face the day. And The Joint understands that scheduling might not be possible when you're low, so you never need an appointment — just come by when you can! When combined with your doctor's care for depression, chiropractic care can be an essential component of the mind-body connection. And The Joint is here to help your mind AND body feel as great as possible! 

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