I know many of my clients say they are depressed when they come to see me. Chronic pain, and how it seems to take over a life and crowd everything else out, can make life seem very bleak indeed. So, depression has been a professional concern of mine for a long time, and I am now embarking on a new venture with the well-known hypnotherapist Steve Miller, Hypno Antidepressant. This will be available soon.
It seems a good time, therefore to look at the links between chronic pain and depression.
We know that chronic pain and depression are linked, either one can worsen the other. According to figures from the United States more than half of people who go to the doctor with chronic pain say they are depressed and more than two thirds of people who are depressed also say they have pain.
There is a physical explanation for this, chronic pain and depression share some of the same neuro-transmitters, those chemical pathways to the brain. This means that dealing with pain can help your depression and dealing with depression can help your pain.
Another finding, which I find very interesting is that people who say their pain limits their independence are the most likely to be depressed. This takes me to the heart of what I do to help people with pain (and will be doing to help people with depression). Three things can really help: thinking patterns, lifestyle changes, taking control.
The great thing about working in this way is that small changes can make you feel much better, and if you feel better you can make more changes – it is a virtuous circle.
Let’s take a couple of examples. If you don’t move, because you are in chronic pain, you are more likely to be depressed, if you can change doing just a little bit of gentle exercise every day you will feel better, and more like doing a little bit more exercise the next day. You pain is likely to decrease and you will know that you are doing something for yourself.
Another example is about your thought patterns. If you are in chronic pain, it is very easy to concentrate on that pain, making you feel miserable and unable to cope. Hypnotherapeutic techniques can be a real help here. I can teach you to use techniques such as visualisation to redirect your thoughts away from the pain. This takes a bit of practise, and some help from a professional hypnotherapist can teach you, but then the changes can be rapid.
My new book
If you would like to get started here I would recommend you get my new book Break the Pain Cycle in 28 Days. This is a simple structured programme, lasting a month which will help you get that pain under control and this will help you pull out of any depression you might be feeling as well. I hope you enjoy it. You can find out more about my new book on this blog post.