Chronic Pain is a Big Part of My Depression

June 26, 2014 Erin Schulthies

Chronic pain is part of my depression. Learn how I deal with depression-related chronic pain--what I do could help you handle chronic pain too. Take a look.

Chronic pain is part of my depression, and it's making me feel so very uncomfortable tonight. I have several health problems that stem from having depression and their symptoms are often more debilitating than depression is on its own. Some come from the stress of having depression, others are a side-effect of my antidepressants. Overcoming my pain is complex, and it often feels like this never ending cycle of chronic pain, depression and pills.

First came the tension headaches that lasted all day, every day. They started about eight years ago for me. After the headaches came stomach problems that involved a constant burning which became worse depending on what I ate. This past January, my family doctor diagnosed me with severe anemia. I barely had the energy to walk around or hang out with friends. My thoughts were jumbled and I simply drew blanks often when I tried to speak. Depression can create chronic pain, and chronic pain is depressing.

Chronic Pain Is Part of Depression and Often Triggered by Stress

[caption id="attachment_2891" align="alignright" width="223"]Chronic pain is a symptom of my depression as it is for many other people. Learn about how I deal with my depression-related chronic pain. Art by Erin Schulthies[/caption]

Stress wreaks havoc in our bodies, starting by increasing our cortisol hormone associated with fight or flight mode. As if we were literally about to be chased by a tiger, our body puts all its energy into fueling us to run. Our adrenaline gets pumping, and our digestive system shuts down. Our immune system gets shut down, too. Basically, we live for the moment and our body follows suit.

So stress affects our appetite and body tension and we're more susceptible to colds and viruses. Since I'm not literally needing to run from a tiger, I'm kind of annoyed about these reactions my body has to stress because they sure aren't helping me.

I believe my depression triggered my anemia, since my symptoms often leave me feeling too tired or overwhelmed to prepare myself a healthy meal.

Treatment for these conditions are an ongoing battle. I've tried seeing a chiropractor, an acupuncturist and a naturopath. None of those treatments worked for my headaches or my stomach. What has helped the most is adjusting one of my antidepressants and practicing self-hypnosis to learn to relax my body.

My anemia has taken six months to get even slightly better; iron pills and injections are finally bringing my energy levels up. The iron pills really upset my stomach, though, so I'm dealing with that issue more than I have needed to for months.

Healing from Depression-Related Chronic Pain Takes Time

I've wanted to give up a million times with these health problems. It's taken years to get as far as I have with knowing my triggers and my minor solutions.

If you have chronic pain with your depression, know that you aren't alone. According to, "Up to 76% of patients with major depressive disorder also experience physical symptoms, including painful complaints such as headaches, stomach pain, back pain and other unexplained pains."

I recommend ice packs, heat pads and keeping an open line of communication between you and your doctor(s). Be patient with yourself. Sometimes our bodies express what we can't with words and we have to let them speak.

You can also find Erin Schulthies on Twitter, Google+, Facebook and her blog, Daisies and Bruises: The Art of Living with Depression.

APA Reference
Schulthies, E. (2014, June 26). Chronic Pain is a Big Part of My Depression, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Author: Erin Schulthies

July, 3 2014 at 5:44 am

I can relate. Its tough and no one understands what the heck you're going through. I have a condition of the skin and sometimes it's so bad I can't even walk. I walk because of my 7 year old that needs it. I also get the headaches and the stomach problems which doesn't help at all with depression. All the meds do stabilize me I have to admit BUT it's been so many years that it physically drains you. Today is one of those days. Can't walk, feel useless, I want to just be alone. Thank God for my son who keeps me alive and on my toes. Hang in there, we can all get through this.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Erin Schulthies
July, 3 2014 at 4:35 pm

Thanks for your encouragement, Anai. Sometimes it helps to just know that we're not alone in our struggles. Keep on keeping on!

Griselda Villalobos
July, 2 2014 at 7:37 pm

*suicidal ideation... *the list goes on...* pain management...

Griselda Villalobos
July, 2 2014 at 7:35 pm

I have the same problem. My dx is panic disorder, anxiety, major depression and schizoaffective disorder with psychosis and psychotic and social ideation. What is starting to help my chronic pains, headaches, mostly migraines, back and neck pain, carpal Tunnel syndrome, the lay goes on, has been seeing a passion management doctor. My current treatment is epidural shots is my spine. Some have helped, but it's as if my body remembers the treatment and begins to reject it but it's a slow process and progress for me. Thanks for sharing.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Erin Schulthies
July, 3 2014 at 4:36 pm

Your chronic pain sounds awful. Keep hanging on. Thanks for your comment. :)

July, 2 2014 at 9:11 am

I know exactly what you are saying,oh my god yes about 8 yrs ago it started for me I am in so much pain I am going to start physical therapy today my neck,shoulders,lower back,my ribs,my headaches,i just lay on the floor when i come out of my room just to watch tv.I get so frustrated my kids think I'm crazy,oh yes I have mental problems:ptsd,panic disorder,severe clinical depression but i'm not crazy!my body is telling me I'm getting worst because the pain is unbearable,no one in my life at this moment understand except my therapist who i see every week.I'm sorry this is happening to you Erin God bless!

Stop the Violence
July, 2 2014 at 8:18 am

Sounds like fibromyalgia...which is different from depression, but many with fibro are depressed. I believe there is a source for pain, and that depression while a legitimate condition should not be the 'catchall' for every symptom. Depressed people get diseases just like every other person, sadly due to stigma doctors are quick to write it off as mental health...get to the source of your other's unlikely they're all in your thing does not always have to do with the's how many people end up beyond treatment and sometimes die.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Erin Schulthies
July, 3 2014 at 4:39 pm

Thanks for sharing your opinion. It's good to remember to not always lump pain in as a symptom of depression.

Jennifer Tazzi
June, 26 2014 at 7:36 am

Thank you for sharing more about your journey, Erin. I can only imagine handling both the physical and mental pain. And yes, it is good to know we're not alone.

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