Can Treating Lower Back Pain Reduce the Effects of Depression and Raise Self Esteem?

Interim HealthCare Blogs
Posted: 12/19/2014 12:00 AM by Interim HealthCare
According to University of Pittsburgh professor Dr. Jordan M. Karp, "Chronic low back pain and depression make each other worse, have similar risk factors, and increase the likelihood of each other's recurrence. When they are both present, patients can enter a vicious cycle of the blues, pain, physical de-conditioning, and feeling hopeless." Studies at both the University of Pittsburgh and Concordia University have found that treating depression in seniors had favorable results on other health issues, including lower back pain.

The Concordia Study found that individuals who expressed a higher level of worth, or whose self-image increased over the period of the study (four years), displayed lower amounts of cortisol, a common hormone related to stress in the body. As self esteem and confidence improved, cortisol levels decreased, and vice versa; this effect was reported to be particularly noticeable in subjects with a preexisting history of depression.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center states that depression and chronic lower back pain both occur in roughly 25 percent of seniors. In their study called “ADAPT”, which stands for Addressing Depression and Pain Together, they were successful when they coupled pain management medications with antidepressants. Participants reported a higher quality of life, feeling better about themselves and less pain.

According to the Washington Post, untreated depression in older adults has been linked to detrimental health effects, such as nearly doubling the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, and the resulting apathy from depression can prevent seniors from taking medication or seeking treatment for existing conditions as well.

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