The Connection Between Anxiety, Depression, and Pain -- and What You Can Do About It

The effect that pain can have on your mental health is an area that researchers are paying closer attention to given the high rate of crossover. In fact, 30-50% of people with chronic pain develop problems with anxiety or depression. 

At RehabOne Medical Group, our team of compassionate and experienced providers understands all too well the connection between dealing with pain and the effect that it has on your mental well-being. As rehabilitation specialists, we excel in helping people regain their quality of life, both physically and mentally, in the face of debilitating and painful conditions. Through our wide range of services, which includes psychological care, we can help you take charge of your life again.

To get started, here’s a look at the connection between pain and anxiety and depression and what we can do about it.

Behind the pain

There are many conditions that account for the high rate of chronic pain in the US, chief among them:

This list is just the tip of the iceberg, but it gives you an idea of the many conditions that can limit your life because of pain.

Mental health by the numbers

Moving from the conditions that can cause chronic pain, let’s take a look at some of the numbers behind mental health in America. Approximately 40 million adults in the US have an anxiety disorder, a large percentage of whom experience generalized anxiety. 

The statistics surrounding major depression are equally as eye-opening, with more than 17 million people reporting at least one major depressive episode.

While many people experience anxiety or depression that’s unrelated to pain, millions of Americans are caught in a vicious cycle of chronic pain and depression and anxiety.

The link between pain and anxiety and depression

When your body is in pain, it triggers a fight-or-flight mode that leads to excessive emotional, physical, and mental stress. This response is created by an increase in cortisol, which is considered your body’s stress hormone. This hormone elevates the levels of glucose in your blood to give your brain and your body extra resources for thinking and acting quickly. But these hormones also suppress your immune system. While this cortisol response is critical when you’re facing a stressful situation, chronic pain can leave you in this elevated state for far too long.

On the flip side of the equation are those who suffer from depression who also experience unexplained pain, leaving us to figure out which came first.

The bottom line is that pain and your mental health are inextricably linked and we understand that many of the biological mechanisms involved in pain are also present in anxiety and depression. 

No matter the connection, our goal is to get you the help you need to relieve your pain, as well as any accompanying depression or anxiety. To do this, we offer the following treatments through our pain psychology services:

No two situations are alike, and we tailor a plan to meet your unique needs. Simply contact one of our four offices in Los Gatos, San Jose, Gilroy, and Salinas, California, to get started.

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In the beginning, Edna had isolated herself so much she was afraid to start the program, afraid to participate in the classes throughout the day, and even afraid to socially join the group.