Living with chronic arthritis pain can bring on or exacerbate symptoms of depression. Medical treatments that address chronic pain and depression can significantly improve health, mood and quality of life.

Treating Chronic Pain

It is critical that patients seek the best medical attention available for their chronic pain condition. Treatments may aim to reduce the sensation of pain, address the source of pain, or both.

It may worthwhile to seek help from a pain management specialist as well as a specialist for the condition causing the pain. For example:

  • A person experiencing pain from ankylosing spondylitis might need to see a rheumatologist for medical management and physiatrist for rehabilitation.
  • A person with chronic osteoarthritis pain might get maximal pain relief by working with a physiatrist or anesthesiologist who is specially trained in pain management and working with a physical therapist who can help maintain strength and flexibility.

A medical specialist has in-depth knowledge and experience related to specific conditions and symptoms. A case that is mysterious to a general practitioner or an emergency room doctor may be easily diagnosed and treated by a specialist. Finding the right doctors and/or specialists is often a process of trial and error. Do not be discouraged if it is necessary to meet with a few physicians before finding the right one.

Treating Depression with Cognitive Therapy and/or Medication

Even when chronic pain is being managed as effectively as possible, it can lead to depression. People struggling with negative feelings, especially on a regular basis, are advised to seek help for depression.

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Many people find relief through cognitive therapy, antidepressant medication, or both.

Cognitive therapy can be done one-on-one with a psychologist or as part of group therapy. It can be helpful to feel that someone understands and empathizes with the pain.

Antidepressant medication. There are a variety of antidepressant medications used to treat depression. These medications can be obtained with a prescription from a primary care doctor or psychiatrist. They are often most effective when combined with cognitive therapy.

In addition, online forums dedicated to either the condition that is causing the pain or to chronic pain itself can be a helpful source of support and information. (Though medical decisions should be made in consult with a physician.)

When faced with both chronic arthritis pain and depression, in can be difficult to believe that things can get better. However, seeking medical help to treat the arthritis pain and depression can make substantial difference in a persons pain levels and mood.

In addition to medical treatment, people can ease everyday symptoms by making holistic life changes.

More Resources in the Managing Depression Center