Does Back Pain Have You in a Funk?

Depression and Back Pain

Peer Reviewed

Have you been in a funk, not understanding the reason for your bad moods and lack of energy? Are you isolating yourself from others because you never know how you will feel from moment to moment? Have you noticed that friends and family members have backed away from spending time with you? Is living from day-to-day becoming more and more of a burden, with no light in sight? If you have answered yes to any of these questions, you may be experiencing a medical illness known as depression.

Depressed Woman sitting and looking out a windowThe first step in changing pessimistic thought patterns and associated emotions is to understand what you are going through when experiencing a depression. Photo Source: pain and depression are two of the most common health problems that health professionals encounter, yet only a small percentage of studies have investigated the relationship between these conditions (Currie and Wang, 2004).

There are key differences between chronic pain and acute pain. The nervous system processes chronic pain differently that acute or "immediate" pain. Acute pain occurs as a result of an incident or event, e.g. you fall down the steps and sprain your ankle. Chronic or "long term" pain happens over time and wears on the individual physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, often with no end in sight, causing the individual to feel more and more pessimistic.

The first step in changing pessimistic thought patterns and associated emotions is to understand what you are going through when experiencing a depression. The good news is you have the ability to make changes that will affect the way you feel and experience life on a day-to-day basis. Are you ready to release the depression and re-experience having fun, laughter and pleasure with your family and friends? Of course you are, so read on to begin shifting your life in an upward and more positive direction.

What Is a Depressive Disorder?

A depressive disorder is an illness that involves the whole person; mind, body, spirit and emotions. It affects the way a person perceives himself as well as his perceptions of the world, resulting in pessimism, hopelessness, sadness and often times anxiety.

Common Myths about Depression


  • is a personal weakness
  • reflects laziness or unwillingness to actively participate in life
  • is a diagnosis that is untreatable and incurable 

These myths are unfounded and represent the opposite of the truth about depression.

What Is the Personal Impact of Depression?


  • often causes insomnia, leading to fatigue, and agitation
  • often leads to social isolation
  • can lead to job dysfunction, causing financial difficulties
  • coupled with chronic back pain may cause gastrointestinal distress
  • can create memory and concentration difficulties
  • can cause a lack of interest in sexual activity 

© 2006 by Margaret McCraw, PhD, author of Tune Into Love

Updated on: 01/02/19
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Are You Depressed?
Lawrence M. Kamhi, MD, FIPP
Dr. McCraw's article correctly identifies the coexistence of depressive affect in some patients with chronic spine pain. Pain physicians should be on the look out for the symptoms of depression lurking beneath the surface in some of our patients. When such symptoms are detected, it is in the patient's interest that the pain physician recommend a consultation with a qualified mental health professional. Teamwork is the key. I have personally observed the pain physician and mental health professional generally work well together on the patient's behalf. Such teamwork makes for a good final result.
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Are You Depressed?

Depression and back pain often intertwine, but there is help. Article from a psychologist gives tips for moving through depression (which should help you deal with your back pain, too).
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