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Depression and Chronic Pain


How Does Talk Therapy Help Chronic Pain and Depression?

Research clearly shows that, for many people, certain kinds of mental training can help improve chronic pain.

Cognitive therapy is one approach. In cognitive therapy, a person learns to notice the negative "automatic thoughts" that surround the experience of chronic pain. These thoughts are often distortions of reality. Cognitive therapy can teach a person how to change these thought patterns and improve the experience of pain.

Cognitive therapy is also a proven treatment for depression and can reduce symptoms of anxiety in those with chronic pain.

What's the Best Way to Manage Chronic Pain and Depression?

The best way to approach managing chronic pain is to team up with a pain specialist or even your family doctor to create a treatment plan. When chronic pain and depression are combined, the need to work with a doctor  is even greater.

Tell your doctor that you want to gain control over your chronic pain and depression. As you develop a plan, keep in mind that the ideal pain management plan will be multidisciplinary, which means it will address all areas of your life that are affected by the pain.

Empower yourself by tapping into available resources such as the American Chronic Pain Association, the American Pain Foundation, and the Academy of Cognitive Therapy. Stay committed to the treatment plan until you feel in control of your pain and depression and can fully live your life, doing the activities you enjoy.

Find a cognitive therapist near you with experience in the treatment of chronic pain. You can locate one by contacting the national pain organizations or cognitive therapists' professional groups mentioned above.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on June 10, 2013
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