Was Depression to Blame
for My Chronic Pain?
Is depression painful? Yes! Can depression cause physical pain? Yes! Was depression the source of my chronic pain from fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, psoriasis, degenerative disc disease, endometriosis, and coccydynia? NO!!
Many of us who suffer from one or more painful chronic illnesses battle depression at least once during our chronic lives. However, I am curious how many were depressed prior to chronic pain becoming apart of their daily lives. I wasn’t. I did battle depression three years prior to being diagnosed with fibromyalgia and psoriatic arthritis. At that time I was struggling to conceive my youngest child and it was no longer an issue once I became pregnant. While going through that period of my life I had been diagnosed with psoriasis, but my doctor and I both dismissed my increased inflammation and joint pain on my depressive state. Had either of us taken my symptoms seriously I do believe I would have been diagnosed with the other conditions much sooner. I wasn’t depressed during my pregnancy or afterwards. I didn’t meet up with my old friend depression until much later and that was from living without hope of relief from non-stop pain for six months.
There have been several occasions during my chronic life when my doctors chose to blame my chronic pain and their inability to decrease it on depression. Was I depressed? Of course I was, my life had come to a standstill, I was in pain all of the time, and I was losing all sense of my identity. My doctors used my depression as a way to get out of helping me, a way to avoid having to prescribe narcotics for pains that were increasingly becoming worse. During the two year period of having to hunt for a surgeon to help me after my botched hysterectomy was the worst. Nobody wanted to touch me. I was told by several surgeons that the pain was from being depressed and/or all in my head and that I needed to see a psychiatrist. If surgeon number 21 hadn’t agreed to help me I probably would have had myself committed as the other surgeons did a great job of causing me to doubt my own sanity. I had hoped this type of mistreatment by a physician was over after that surgery proved that my pain wasn’t caused by depression, but instead from the gross negligence of the surgeon who performed my hysterectomy. But it wasn’t. Time and time again, whenever my doctors felt frustrated because they couldn’t reduce my pain or they didn’t want to prescribe opioids, they pulled out the depression card. Over and over I told them that my pain wasn’t caused from depression, but that pain was the source of my depression. It wasn’t until I completely quit all of my doctor’s prescribed protocols in 2012 that I was able to prove my point. After giving my body time to detox from all of my prescriptions I began seeking alternative treatments. Unlike everything my doctors prescribed, my new treatments didn’t mask my pain, they addressed it. Little by little my pain has decreased and now in 2017 I am doing better than I have since 2003. Within days of experiencing relief like I had never known my depressive state began to fade. I traded my tears for smiles and anger for joy. I wasn’t healed, but my treatments eliminated the widespread pain I had been experiencing for so many years which made it possible to focus on my key pain source areas.
Doctors who blame depression before addressing the real pain source are playing a dangerous game. Blaming depression can delay care of a serious physical issue. It can cause further damage. And in my opinion it is a copout for not having to deal with a patient who isn’t easy to treat. By the time I had the surgery that proved my pain wasn’t in my head, adhesions had began strangling my bowels. I could have died had I listened to those other surgeon and gone to a psychiatrist instead of continuing to search for a surgeon to help me. Blaming depression without helping reduce a patient’s pain will only make things worse. Imagine being told that your pain is being caused by depression, that all you had to do to feel better is to work through your emotions. So you try, but guess what??!!! It doesn’t help!! Why, because it is your physical pain that is fueling your depression. It is the reason you can’t work, play with your kids, clean your house, or be intimate with your spouse.
I am not saying that depression shouldn’t be addressed, because it definitely needs to be. What I am saying is that our doctors need to work harder to find the real sources of our pain and be more open minded in regards to therapies that do not require a prescription. Without helping us reduce our pain our depression will only grow deeper. For many of us pain reduction is the only weapon needed to defeat depression.