Anxiety and Depression caused by long-term and chronic pain

Learn more about how long-term pain can lead to secondary mental health issues

Levin Health 6

Chronic pain, if left untreated can cause a range of secondary health issues, including both anxiety and depression. In Australia, around one million people experience depression at some point in their life. Furthermore, one in six women, and one in eight men, will experience depression at some stage of their life. When it comes to anxiety, approximately 25% of the Australian population have an anxiety disorder that requires treatment at some stage of their life.

What are the symptoms of anxiety and depression from long term pain?

The symptoms of anxiety and depression can vary from person to person, and can range all the way from mild to severe. If your anxiety and depression are caused by chronic pain, then symptoms severity can also vary depending on both the length of time that you’ve experienced this pain, and just how painful it is.

Some of the symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Excessive sweating
  • Muscle tension
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Dizziness and vertigo
  • Shortness of breath
  • Insomnia
  • Panic attacks
  • Feelings of dread
  • Concentration problems

Like anxiety, depression can manifest in both physical and emotional symptoms. Some of the symptoms of depression can include:

  • Loss of energy, lethargy, and or exhaustion
  • Changes in appetite and sleeping patterns
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Substance abuse
  • Feeling sad or losing interest or pleasure in activities
  • Becoming withdrawn and isolated
  • Thinking about death or suicide

What are the traditional treatments for anxiety and depression caused by chronic pain?

It’s important to talk to your GP about putting a treatment plan in place for your chronic pain, as well as any anxiety and depression that may be caused by it. There are a range of traditional treatment options for chronic pain, which include:

Lifestyle changes:

  • Seeing a psychologist
  • Seeing a physiotherapist or exercise physiologist
  • Relaxation techniques, such as meditation
  • Exercise such as swimming, walking, tai chi, and cycling
  • Improving your sleep

Medicinal treatments:

  • Over the counter pain relief medication such as paracetamol
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) which include ibuprofen and diclofenac
  • Antidepressants

Additionally, your doctor may recommend treatments  and various management strategies for depression and anxiety. These treatments can vary based on the nature of your condition, and may include:

  • Lifestyle changes such as regular exercise
  • Counselling or psychological therapy
  • Psychological treatments, such as: cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (ITP), and behaviour therapy.
  • Antidepressant medication

And for anxiety additional treatments may include:

  • Relaxation and correct breathing techniques
  • Support groups
  • Dietary adjustments
  • Mindfulness

Medicinal cannabis and anxiety and depression caused by long-term pain

If you’ve exhausted other treatment options and haven’t experienced any relief or improvement, it might be worth chatting to your doctor to see whether medicinal cannabis could be suitable for you. 

Dr Stewart is a true believer in focusing on overall health and always promotes a healthy lifestyle as the key. Click below to learn more about anxiety and depression caused by long-term pain and traditional and alternative treatments you may wish to discuss with a Doctor. 

Lisa J.
Retired

“It is really hard to keep yourself motivated when you feel pain everyday for so many years. The constant discomfort makes you anxious about little things throughout the day.”

Other Conditions


Sources:

  1. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/depression
  2. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/anxiety-disorders
  3. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/anxiety-and-depression-in-men
  4. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/chronic-pain
  5. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/depression-treatment-and-management
  6. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/anxiety-treatment-options