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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Does depression due to ill health and pain ever go away?

    I suffer from depression which I was told was triggered from an injury. I have been doing OK although I have had a lot to deal with my health and injuries. Recently I sustained another injury and I am noticing that I have become sad and emotional again. I am tired - it is like I start moving forward but something is constantly happening with my health that I just feel like enough is enough. I understand this is life but I am tired of my life always having to be full of illness or injury and I would love a break. How can I overcome the way I feel so I can get past all this?
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  • 1


    Caroline Hardie

    HealthShare Member

    Yes, I think, if you are able to deal with the pain itself. Dependent if it is a long- term problem that is going to be always there or if it is a short-term pain you can learn to cope with either. If it is something that can be treated with pain management or can be brought to bear with medical assistance, then that will obviously help alleviate the depression.

    In the meantime, once again to deal the depression, trying to take care of yourself and give yourself positive experiences to try and balance out the difficulties of pain management, trying to eat well, sleep well.

    Maintain social contacts. Maintain pleasurable activities if the pain is not impinging too much on that. If it is, try and do some lateral thinking. What other activities are available to you that you could substitute that might be something new that you have not done before.

    Look at relaxation techniques. Look at meditation, body visualization, imagining yourself feeling better and working towards that as a goal.

  • Massimo Mirabile

    Exercise Physiologist, Physiotherapist

    My name is Massimo Mirabile and I am a qualified physiotherapist as well as an exercise scientist and accredited exercise physiologist. I completed a Bachelor … View Profile

    Yes, I believe that depression can go away through exercise. It seems like I have got a lot of people that have depression and I will get them to go to the gym and set them up with an exercise program, running programs, things like that.

    So yes, I have seen an improvement with some of my patients that go through depression.

  • 1


    Dr Toni Lindsay

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    Dr Toni Lindsay is a clinical psychologist whose expertise is working with children, adolescents and adults living with chronic health conditions such as cancer, diabetes, … View Profile

    Hi There,

    Pain, particularly chronic pain and illness are difficult to manage, particularly if things feel like they are getting worse and not better (for instance if you sustain another injury). Often for people who live with things like you are describing, everything feels really difficult to manage, and so another thing on top can make emotions swell and feel overwhelming.

    You have shown through your past experience that you have the skills and tools to manage the current illness and its impact. That of course doesn't mean that it will be easy, but the tools are there! When things are feeling quite overwhelming though, perhaps it might help to speak with your GP or a counsellor/psychologist to help point you in the right direction.

    I agree with the above posts as well, and I would recommend some routine, exercise and putting some activities in your day to make it feel meaningful (even though these may be different to ones that you were able to do prior to your injury).

    Toni :)

  • 1


    Emma Webster

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    I am a warm, supportive and compassionate therapist, committed to assisting my clients to connect to their inner wisdom and strength, to develop mindful awareness … View Profile

    Living with injury and pain can be a tremendous burden on your life therefore I can understand why you might be feeling so fatigued and emotional. Research shows that depression is one of the most common psychological issues that people with chronic injury or pain face however at times this can go undiagnosed because of the focus on pain symptoms. When you have chronic pain and depression, the load is heavier. Depression tends to exacerbate pain and/or injury and can make it more difficult to cope with living through sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, low energy and motivation, and decreased physical activity. The impact of chronic pain on a person’s life can also feed depression for example through loss of exercise, sleep, withdrawal from social activity, and reduced ability to work.

    Treatment ideally will address areas of your life affected by both the depression and chronic pain. The above responses have suggested helpful psychological strategies to deal with the depression and pain. From a psychological perspective, it is also important to examine how your pain and pain management strategies have forced you to constrain your life in some way and whether this is impacting on you living the way that you would like to live. Often attempts to avoid pain can cause more harm than good, to both your body and psychological wellbeing. Through learning to accept pain you can start to limit the control it has on your life. Mindfulness exercises can help you to develop a different relationship to pain, to move from pain being a huge preoccupation, to a simple experience. Developing cognitive awareness can help you step back from self-limiting beliefs and thought patterns. Clarifying your values can also help determine what is important to you and how you want to live your life so that you can take committed action and make choices that lead to a value-based life.

    An experienced therapist would be able to help you explore these issues and I would be happy to discuss this with you further. You might also want to check out The Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Approach to Living Fully with Chronic Pain by Joanne Dahl and Tobias Lundgren.

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