Together, many small lifestyle changes can add up to a significant reduction in chronic pain and depression. This article describes 12 holistic changes people can make. Items 1 to 5 are available here; items 6 to 12 are listed below.

See Reducing the Risk of Pain and Depression

  1. Eat Mediterranean. Consuming a healthy diet can improve mental and physical health. While there are many variables that influence dietary outcomes, some research indicates that the Cretan Mediterranean Diet improves cognitive outcomes, including lower rates of depression, in healthy older adults. This diet consists of vegetables, fruits, olive oil, legumes, fish, whole grain cereals, nuts and seeds; moderate red wine, and low consumption of processed foods, dairy products, red meat and vegetable oils. 1 A randomised controlled intervention trial evaluating the efficacy of a Mediterranean dietary pattern on cognitive function and psychological wellbeing in healthy older adults: the MedLey study. Accessed May 13, 2015.

    See An Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Arthritis

    Watch: Video: Parmesan & Balsamic Vinegar Roasted Cauliflower for Arthritis Pain Relief

  2. Sleep in. Getting sufficient sleep. 2 Sleep and depression--results from psychobiological studies: an overview. Accessed on May 13, 2015. Most adults need 7 to 8 hours and people who suffer from chronic pain may need a bit more. Of course, getting sufficient restorative sleep while coping with chronic pain can be challenging, making it more important to learn about, develop and maintain sleep hygiene methods.

    See Getting the Sleep You Need With Fibromyalgia

  3. Find support. Spending time with loved ones. 3 National Institute of Mental Health. Depression. Accessed on May 14, 2015. Regular time with supportive friends and family gives an individual something to look forward to when pain is severe or mood levels are low.

    See Treating Depression and Chronic Pain

  1. Manage stress. Avoiding excessive stress, especially chronic stress. 4 Life Event, Stress, and Illness. Accessed on May 14, 2015. Of course, all stress cannot be avoided. Small projects that bring on temporary stress are preferable to massive undertakings that bring on long-term, chronic stress.
  2. Spiritual engagement. Prayer, meditation, or spiritual study seems too boost mood and sense of well-being. 5 The impact of religious practice and religious coping on geriatric depression. . Accessed on May 14, 2015. , 6 Moreira-Almeida A, Koenig HG. Religiousness and spirituality in fibromyalgia and chronic pain patients. Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2008 Oct;12(5):327-32. Review. PubMed PMID: 18765136.
  3. Give to others. Volunteering to help others, especially regularly over time. 7 Volunteering and depression: the role of psychological and social resources in different age groups. L Accessed on May 14, 2015. Taking on a “giving” role can change self-perceptions and boost mood levels.
  4. Avoid negativity on TV. People who suffer from chronic arthritis pain and depression may want to steer clear of TV shows and other media with negative themes. In one study, experts interviewed many older adults who reported that watching TV shows with negative themes contributed to a deteriorated mood. 8 More Than Just a Communication Medium: What Older Adults Say About Television and Depression. Accessed on May 14, 2015.

In This Article:

While each of these holistic life changes may seem minor, the can make discernable differences in everyday life, especially when used together. For example, people who have active social calendars, exercise, eat healthful diets, get sufficient sleep, and are regularly engaged in something uplifting—such as bird-watching, painting, listening to music, or taking virtual tours of art galleries—will typically report less pain and depression than people who are isolated, neglect their health, and do not participate in activities that bring them joy.

See Defining Chronic Pain and Depression


In addition to making holistic life changes, people who experience chronic arthritis pain and depression are encouraged to seek medical treatments for both the pain and depression.