Is your back pain a sign of a mental health issue? New study makes link between depression and low back pain.

For many medical researchers and health care professionals the consensus is developing that depression activates a set of bodily responses that over time have an impact on the overall health of the person affected. Some researchers are even re-defining depression as a systemic disease affecting the entire organism of the body.

The evidence is growing to link some common, chronic physical complaints to the state of your mental health. The University of Sydney has recently carried out research that reveals that people with depression are 60% more likely to develop low back pain in their lifetime.

The research has been published in Arthritis Care and Research and analysed data from 11 international studies and found people with symptoms of depression had a much higher risk of developing low back pain in the future compared with those showing no symptoms of depression.

Dr Paulo Ferreira commented to the Sydney Morning Herald “Low back pain is a debilitating condition, particularly when coupled with other health conditions, so I hope this discovery will lead to better treatment in the future,”

“When patients come to us with both back pain and depression their cases are much more complex. They don’t respond to treatment in the same way as patients who only experience back pain – they take much longer to recover and treatment can be expensive.

“Our study suggests we would have much better outcomes if we treated depression and back pain simultaneously, but this would require health professionals from different fields to work together more closely.”

“While this study tells us there is definitely a link between depression and back pain, it doesn’t tell us why,” Ms Pinheiro, PhD candidate in the Faculty of Health Sciences also comments in the Sydney Morning Herald.

“It could be because people with depression often have lower levels of physical activity and poor sleep, or due to issues with neurotransmitters which impact both mood and pain thresholds.”

This is an interesting piece of research and it made me think of a couple of recent statistics that found in Australia the number one reason for a woman to visit her GP is related to anxiety or depression. For a man the number one reason he visits his GP was for back pain and the number two reason was for anxiety or depression.

Many theorists recognise that traditional gender roles are created within society. Unfortunately this reinforces certain cultural and social ideas around masculinity such as the childhood assumption ‘boys don’t cry’. It’s widely understood that many men find it difficult to express their emotions due to their sense of their own masculinity and upbringing.

You may even view feelings as a sign of weakness and bottle them up inside. You may even feel ashamed of showing any vulnerability and avoid seeking help from those closest to you, or professionals, no matter how tough life feels. It is no wonder the signs and symptoms of depression may bubble away inside unnoticed affecting your overall mood, your eating and sleeping habits and possibly leading you to drink more or take drugs to get some release. Overtime its understandable the emotional impact of all of this could find expression in chronic bodily aches and pains such as headaches or backaches.

It is important to recognise the links between the wellbeing of your body and mind. To pay attention to your health and acknowledge that it could be a sign of other deeper underlying personal, emotional or psychological issues. If you do feel any of these issues may be affecting you its useful to know you can get help with them by talking with a professional.

Mark Tonkinson




Category : Anxiety & Bullying & Depression & Manhood & Men and Anger & Pain & Relationships & Stress Reduction & Uncategorized

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