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Pain and mental health


                One of the symptoms of depression is vague aches and pains.  One of the complications to chronic pain is depression.  For many it can be similar to the question regarding the chicken or the egg.  Did significant trauma at a young age (even unremembered) cause the brain to grow weary of constant pain, resulting in depressive and anxious symptoms?  Or did depression which came on in adolescence develop into physical symptoms that have grown into more severe and frequent complaints?

                Does the question even matter?  Do we really care if the person has been suffering from pain and is depressed from it, versus if the person has been depressed and is suffering from pain because of it?  There are many who would argue that it doesn’t matter.  We can be given psychotropic drugs for the depressive symptoms, and ibuprofen (or stronger) for the pain. 
                How about this:  how many people have you met who’s lives have been significantly impacted by chronic vague pain and/or depression?  The mom who had difficulty lifting her toddler because her back hurts constantly.  The college student who had to drop out because of his struggles with emotional issues.  The mom is now up to opioid medication just to get through her day… the young man is taking an anti-depressant and a benzodiazepine for his symptoms.  What if what you don’t know is the woman has been dealing with low self-esteem since high school and her “baby blues” were actually full-blown clinical depression; and the young man was in a moderate “fender bender” when he was 14 and has had low-level pain ever since.

                What if, because we don’t care which came first, we are not only not helping the person suffering, but possibly doing more damage by treating the wrong symptom.  Chiropractic has been shown to help anxiety and depression.  Chiropractic is absolutely one of the best options for chronic pain reduction and correction.  From an outsider’s perspective, it doesn’t matter if the depression is from pain and we’ve corrected the cause because both have been alleviated. 
                From my perspective, and especially the patient’s, it absolutely matters.  Not only am I adjusting someone differently based on the cause of their complaints, but if someone needs to talk to a professional regarding their mental and emotional health, I’m recommending that as part of their care plan.  Rather than not worry which caused the other, as long as the person gets better; I treat the person and address the causes.  Often, I can directly correct the cause and relieve several symptoms (some not noticed initially); sometimes, I help the person find the cause and refer them to the help they need. 

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