Adapted from a Presentation by Dr. Brian Kirsch, FRCPC

Comprehensive Pain Program, Department of Psychiatry, University Health Network

While abnormal in the general populace, depression can be prevalent in those coping with chronic neuropathic pain.

Many myths exist regarding depression; that the disease is abnormal or an inevitable response to life stress or illness. 

In fact, for those suffering chronic pain, pain-related depression can be approached with the same tools as confronting the pain itself; multi-faceted self-management. Make sure that your body and mind are engaged. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Mindfulness Meditation, counseling and family therapy are all methods by which those suffering from depression can take control of their own destiny.

Here are some tips for those dealing with pain-related depression

Don’t wait for the “cure!” 

  • Become an active participant in your own pain management. Sample from different self-management techniques; mix-and-match those systems where appropriate, with input from your physician. Confront your pain head on, rather than allowing it to control your life and outlook.

Help body and mind: Self-management

  • Be conscious of your own pain-management plan; sticking to your plan will help you to stay focused on dealing with 

Body: Get going!

  • Staying active can help with pain management; whether through Tai Chi, yoga, walking, swimming or stretching, low-impact physical activity keeps the body loose and fit. Consult with a professional, and develop the activity plan that fits your lifestyle, while easing rather than aggravating your pain. Always remember that nutrition can play a role in you recovery and pain management, and eat well where possible. 

Tai Chi, Yoga, walking, warm pool, stretching, nutrition

Mind: Use it!

  • Keep your mind sharp! Remember, your pain does not control you. Whether through cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness meditation, counseling, therapy, or prayer, a sound mind will strengthen the body (and vice versa!)