Today I am excited to share a guest post with you! It discusses how support groups help with pain and depression which was written for us by BackerNation.com!
Without further ado, let’s get to the post!
How Support Groups Help with Pain and Depression
Approximately 50 percent of individuals who suffer from chronic pain also have depression, according to Robert D. Kerns, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry, neurology, and psychology at Yale University, who formerly served as director of pain research at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System.
“It’s important to treat both chronic pain and depression,” Kerns said.
Major depression affects nearly 9.5 percent of the United States population and is the prominent culprit of disability in Americans. Depression does not discriminate. It touches individuals of all socioeconomic statuses, ages, and races disrupting employment, social activity, and quality of life. Painful physical symptoms—like back pain—enhance feelings of hopelessness and can lead to a diminished quality of life. Stress and anxiety related to depression can cause your cortisol levels to rise which makes your muscles tighten and intensifies your already penetrating pain.
Records from the World Health Organization signifies that over 75 percent of patients with depression suffer from pain-related illnesses, such as a headache, stomach pain, neck and back pain. The link between chronic back pain and depression has only recently gained attention but has been an underground topic amongst sufferers of chronic pain who may be too afraid to share their hopelessness.
“Chronic pain also creates many stressors, which can lead to depression,” said Beverly Thorn, Ph.D., clinical health psychology professor and chair at The University of Alabama.
Thorn concentrates on painful conditions and how chronic pain interferes with a person’s daily functioning eventually leading to depression. For example, a client of Thorn’s who suffers from lower back pain continually expressed to her that he was in so much pain, he was too afraid to do anything. His MRI revealed critical damage to his back and spine. Thorn advised him that his worry was not only exacerbating the pain, but also his moods, actions, and quality of life. It turns out that his anxiety increased his blood pressure and heart rate while shortening his breathing.
Thorn suggested that he see a physical therapist to strengthen his muscles as well as a psychologist and support group to help heal his mind.
“As soon as someone has an empowering thought, they start to feel like they have a little bit more control over their life,” Thorn said. “His spine is damaged. He’s had three surgeries. But does he have control? Yes, he does.”
The journal of General Hospital Psychiatry conducted a study involving 1,269 patients, which compared support groups to standard treatment.
“Peer groups have some theoretical advantages over some other forms of therapy. For example, peer groups provide patients with a sense of helping others with similar problems, and there’s also a sense of cohesiveness, a connection to group members,” said Paul Pfeiffer M.D., lead director of the department of psychiatry at the University of Michigan.
“One of the participants said it was a great message of hope to know that the educator was once suffering and had made it over the other side of the fence.”
Depression and back pain can sometimes go hand in hand, so don’t be afraid to speak out about your feelings. You do not have to do it alone. Talk to your doctor about treatment and support groups in your area and how engaging in a support group can help with your recovery.
Written by BackerNation.com, a new platform that supports chronic back pain sufferers with personalized education, coaching and action plans. Please, help create a next generation community by completing their short, 2 minute survey, which can be found by clicking here.