It is quite common for those who suffer from chronic pain to feel depressed as well. This is understandable, as any pain that lasts more than three to six months may be the cause of not only a physiological depression but an emotional depression as well.
It is easier to successfully treat a chronic pain condition when the underlying cause is an anatomical problem such as a degenerative disc disease or spinal stenosis. On the other hand, many cases of chronic pain and depression are not linked to an anatomical problem, but are the actual disease.
Traditionally speaking, all cases of chronic pain and depression are treated with medication. However, some of these medications might create secondary effects that may cause distress in other organs. Also, these types of treatments can be very costly.
The following holistic recommendations will help you manage your symptoms on a daily basis. They are all good for your health and also for your checkbook.
Identify your stress triggers that could increase your chronic pain.
By monitoring and keeping a diary with your daily activities you will eventually notice some patters as well as the types of stress that could be triggering the pain. This practice will also help you keep your focus away from the pain itself, and focus more on ways you can manage it through the alteration of some activities in your life that affect your pain. It will also make you feel better as you’ll feel more in control of your pain instead of the pain controlling you.
Don’t resist your pain.
Go to a quiet place and take some time to just be with your pain. Feel it, don’t resist it. By allowing yourself to welcome your pain, it will flow through you easier than when you fight it… before you know it, it’ll feel smoother, lighter. This may sound awkward to you, but give it a try. You may find relief and peace that will aid you with your pain management long term.
Imagine your pain and talk to it.
Once again, go to a quiet place and lay down. Close your eyes and relax by breathing deeply in through your nose until your abdomen distends fully. Now exhale slowly through your mouth while you focus on the painful area. Now imagine the pain… How big is it? How strong is it? Does it have a color? What shape does it have? Now, talk to your pain. Ask it what it wants from you, why it is there. Now, ask it kindly to leave. With your eyes still shot, take a deep breath and direct the flow of air all the way to the pain. Imagine that is pure energy meant to take away the pain. You may take several breaths following your imagination. Now watch the pain dissolve and leave your body through your mouth as you exhale. This exercise may take practice before you notice any benefits from it. Be patient, it works!
Massage your trigger points and apply pressure.
Called acupressure, it may offer similar effects as those found with acupuncture treatments and you can practice it yourself at any time and place. Use your fingertips to apply gentle pressure on your painful areas. Then rub in circles. You determine how deep you press. This practice is especially helpful when your pain is localized. Don’t forget to breathe deeply and release as you do this.
Apply hot or cold therapy.
A hot shower, bath or Jacuzzi may help you relax your muscles and soothe the pain. You can also massage your tender areas while you are in hot water. It will also help you sleep better when you do this at night. If heat is not helping you, you may want to numb the area with ice packs. To prevent ice burns, make sure you change the position of the ice pack every few minutes. Try both methods and see what works for you.
There is a wrong belief that exercise makes chronic pain worse. Nothing could be further from the truth. You do not have to get ready for the Olympics, but some form of exercise will definitely help. You are the only one that can determine the kind of exercise you can do. You can start by taking a brisk 20 minute walk every other day. You’ll notice you overall condition improves as your brain releases endorphins that block the pain signal. As with everything else, talk to your doctor before starting any routine.
Learn to meditate.
Meditation is a practice that can be learnt with practice. Its benefits are too many to list. Since sleeping can be a challenge for people that suffer from chronic pain and depression, meditating can help a great deal with both conditions. Lie down in a quiet place and close your eyes. Take a deep breath and focus on your head muscles. Relax them. Do the same with every part of your body beginning with your head and work down all the way to your feet. You may want to practice this every night until your learn to slip into a deep sleep. It is during sleep that the body repairs and heals itself. If you do it during the day, focus on quiet and beautiful moments. Meditate for awhile. Focus on your breathing and do not allow thoughts of work, problems or worries to enter your mind. Truly dedicate this time to yourself. With practice, you will get better at it, and will start noticing the benefits soon.
You are your own best advocate.
No one knows your pain better than you, so you are the best person to advocate for your own pain management. Be proactive. Find out as much information as you can about chronic pain and depression and explore all you can do about it. Visit websites, talk to people in forums, listen to their stories and ask many questions. Also, remember that not all people respond equally to the same treatments, so it’s extremely important to communicate clearly with your doctor so he can choose the best treatment for you.
Remember that there are many things you can do to manage your pain and your depression. Feeling hopeless is not one of those things. Commit to daily activities that nurture you. Take a walk, admire nature, call a friend, read an inspiring book, pray, listen to music that moves you, learn, write a letter or poem, spend time with your loved ones, and do whatever makes you feel good.