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Archive for July, 2008

Back Pain and Depression

Monday, July 21st, 2008

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Is my back pain all in my head??? I have patients ask me that question all the time.

Pain signals are processed in the brain – so it has to be involved somehow. Research has, in fact, linked anxiety and depression to back pain. But what comes first, the depression or the back pain?

Certainly either scenario is possible. You are depressed; you walk around slouched with no energy; you stop exercising and taking care of yourself. That is a recipe and a precursor for a back problem. But pain is depressing and often the psychological component occurs because of the back problem. A recent study found that 42% of people with back pain where depressed PRIOR to the onset of pain, while 58% became depressed AFTER the onset of back pain.

Depression is a reaction to feelings of hopelessness. So whether your depression came on before or after back pain, you are feeling a lack of control over your life – your job, your body, your financial situation, your relationships. The key to improving your back symptoms and your emotional state lies in your ability to re-kindle your sense of control and personal power. This is why I think life coaching is such a wonderful tool for people with physical pain. I’ve personally worked with a couple of life coaches over the years and The Handel Group is a coaching company that I highly recommend. The coaches at The Handel Group can help you understand how your reaction to life events creates stress, not the events themselves. Therein lies the control. You can change your physical and emotional response to stress by changing how you think about stress. The Handel Group will guide you through that process.

So is back pain in your head? Can you improve back pain with your mind? Well, sort of… You can change the way you respond to stressors in your life thereby decreasing your back tension and flare-ups… and improving other aspects of your life while you are at it.

To find out more about The Handel Group and to contact them about private or group life coaching go to www.handelgroup.com. If you tell them Chantal sent you, they will give you a discount on your first trial session. There is even a free, group session on August 13th. Their website has more details.

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