In the West, most people are what philosophers call “implicit dualists.” They believe that the body and the mind are made of different types of “stuff.” Thoughts, they tell themselves, are different from the chemical messages that carry them – and the rest of the body.
The reality, though, is quite different. Mind and body – whether separate or not – are part of the same system, and impact one another enormously.
Take back pain for instance – a popular topic in these parts. Most people just assume that it happens because of an injury to the body or an error on the cellular level. But intriguing evidence suggests that a lot of it, if not most of it, is the product of our minds.
Backaches Are A Common Symptom Of Depression
Nobody is suggesting that all back pain is the result of mental activity. However, there is a lot of research that shows that people with severe depression regularly develop body aches, including back pain, because of their condition. What’s more, they also tend to feel the pain more intensely than people who aren’t depressed.
But why would this be?
Researchers think that the culprit is inflammatory markers. Thoughts themselves can’t change the exterior world. But they can change the chemistry of the brain, causing it to secrete more of some factors and less of others.
The evidence seems to show that people with depression release more inflammatory chemical messengers into their bodies. And these then interact with their tissues causing inflammation and, therefore, pain.
When you test the blood of people in chronic pain, you find that inflammatory compound levels are higher than in the rest of the population, suggesting that they play a crucial role.
Treating Depression-Induced Chronic Backpain Requires A Holistic Approach
So what can people do about chronic back pain? Is there any way to get rid of it?
The best approach at the moment seems to be holistic therapy. This is where the patient themselves begins to understand that their back pain isn’t just in the body, but in the mind as well.
CBD can help with depression, so that might be a good place to start. But people with symptoms also need to go through counselling.
Counselling is critical because it helps to eliminate the mind as a possible driver of pain. So many individuals go through their lives, believing that they need back surgery when the real answer lies in feeling healthier and happier in themselves.
Other talk therapies may be beneficial too. For instance, some patients can benefit tremendously from relaxation therapy. Others respond positively to CBT.
Again, when we say that back pain is in the mind, we’re not saying it isn’t real. The experiences of the mind are the most real anything ever gets!
However, it’s worth exploring whether you have depression first before you opt for significant spinal intervention. Once you treat the depression, the pain may become more manageable. Or it could disappear altogether.
So, do you think that there’s a link between depression and back pain?