Depression and Back Pain

Depression and Back Pain


Hi I’m dr. John Shim and today I want to
talk about a very uncomfortable subject for many of you it’s about depression
and its relationship to back and neck pain. Right now it’s the holiday season
and many are preparing for traditions including family gatherings gift
exchanges and parties. The hidden truth is is a very stressful time of year.
Pressures of cost, expectation and emotion can actually cause depression.
The feeling of depression is often hidden during this time but can be
expressed through frustration, difficulty sleeping, changes in eating habits and
increased heart rates and blood pressure. Unfortunately for those with neck and
back pain it can also make it worse or precipitate an episode. As we already
know there’s a very direct relationship between chronic pain and depression. Both
can trigger each other. For those who have chronic pain I often recommend they
see their primary care doctor and discuss use of medications including
antidepressants. There should no longer be a stigma about this treatment in our
society but still some cultures frown on those who seek help. As a physician I say
we must encourage our friends and families to get evaluated but there are
concerns. Other ways to prevent stresses from triggering more pain and more
depression include the same common-sense things we have discussed over and over
again. Get exercise, you feel better they’re actually a release of endorphins
those chemicals that make you feel better. Keep your weight down even though
it’s obvious we still let ourselves go during the holidays. Weigh yourself every
day. Track and trend. Avoid situations that increase your stress emotionally,
physically and financially again and the obvious recommendation but as many will
say difficult to execute. Stay engaged in your favorite activity
or hobby stopping the one or two things that you find fun can become a very
vicious cycle. Sleep at the same time every day your body likes to keep a
rhythm, it regulates you. Avoid excessive alcohol consumption. Paradoxically
alcohol makes you sleep less effectively. If you feel overwhelmed by stress
sadness and despair get help from a physician. While family and friends may
mean well sometimes their advice may be the exact opposite of what you really
need. I’m dr. John Shim I wish everyone an excellent holiday season. Please do
not stress about things you cannot control. Reach out to those who allow you
to equally laugh or cry. Reach out to those who really love and
care for you. Peace to all. Thank you.

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