Monday, January 20, 2014

Pain + Depression = More Disability




Many people with long-term pain, especially those that have experienced significant losses caused by their pain, also experience depression. This is an understandable reaction to having a life full of pain and losses, that continues day after day.

Even though it may be very difficult to acknowledge, it is important that depression is recognized as part of the overall difficulties for people with long-term or chronic pain. This is important for several reasons.

From a treatment point of view, help with your depression, even depression that is caused by your pain and losses, can help reduce the severity of your long-term pain. Medications and psychological treatments for depression can help with physical pain. These can also help with sleep, energy and tolerances, all of which are important for  individuals struggling to cope with long-term pain.

When individuals are applying for disability benefits, it is important to have your physical injuries, sources of pain, and secondary psychological reactions acknowledged and accepted. All of these factors combine to create the overhaul limitations that can interfere with an your capacity to work.

Sometimes people in pain only discuss their physical injuries. This can hurt you when you are making claims and are out of work. When you only discuss one part of your overall limitations, insurers are bound to underestimate just how limited you may be. It is important for treatment providers and insurers to understand not just the causes of the problem, but also all of the secondary complications and factors that can limit you.

When it comes to secondary psychological reactions of depression, sometimes a simple formula can help us all understand it a little bit better.

Pain (including multiple sources of pain) + depression =  more disability

Essentially, this means that an individual is more disabled by 2 problems (or many problems) than they are by just one problem. Simple, but true.

This is an important topic and I will return to it over and over again more detailed information - what is depression.

Yours with care - Mike

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