When it comes to the relationship between chronic pain and depression, it’s very much a chicken-or-the-egg type of debate. The physical manifestations of depression—while hard to explain—can be quite painful: back pain, migraine headaches, etc. The mental manifestations of chronic pain can be equally troubling: stress, difficulty sleeping, low self-esteem, etc. Chronic pain and depression oftentimes work in a vicious cycle, where pain exacerbates the symptoms of depression, which, in turn, exacerbates the feelings of physical pain. And the cycle continues…


Being proactive & addressing depression before it becomes debilitating, is one way. Stopping acute pain before it becomes chronic pain—especially when an individual is prone to depression—can prevent a great deal of suffering. During an episode of acute pain, speak to your physician if any of the following symptoms become problematic:

• Sadness or anxiety
• Trouble sleeping
• Feelings of hopelessness
• Lack of interest in enjoyable activities
• Changes in appetite
• Lethargy or lack of motivation

Also, knowing which stress triggers to look for can help reduce chronic pain and keep depression at bay. Maybe running late is a stressor, or talking about stressful issues right before bed. Being mindful about how stress and anxiety affect your pain levels can help you put a plan in place for dealing with these stressors in a healthy and productive way, thus preventing the onset of depression.

Regardless of whether an individual believes his or her depressive symptoms will be resolved once the pain has been addressed, speaking about depression with a physician ensures that key members of the care team are aware of any potential issues that may arise. Depression can directly—and negatively—impact an individual’s ability to heal. It’s better to be open about depressive symptoms now, even if they seem minute, than to become stuck in an unbreakable cycle of pain and depression later.

Finally, taking a multi-disciplinary approach to treating the symptoms of pain and depression tends to be more high yield. Some recommended courses of treatment that are proven to treat both chronic pain and depression simultaneously include:

• Talk therapy or psychotherapy
• Stress reduction techniques, such as exercise, meditation, or journaling
• Ketamine infusions—one of the most effective treatments for chronic pain and depression
• Conventional pharmacological solutions & medications

A combination of the above treatments will likely yield the best results, reducing chronic pain and depressive symptoms before they worsen. Remember, misery is not the only option for those suffering from depression, chronic pain, or both. Finding an effective treatment program can make life enjoyable once again.


If you or someone you love is suffering from chronic pain, depression, or both, contact Vitalitas Denver using the brief form below. We are happy to offer a complimentary consultation to new patients. You’ll speak with a qualified anesthesiologist about the benefits of ketamine infusions and learn whether you or your loved one is a good candidate. Whatever the right solution is for your unique situation, we are happy to help point you in the direction of hope.

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