Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: March 26, 2018
If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you may remember that we’ve taken a closer look at the link between depression and spine pain or surgery. Now, we’re hearing of a new link between patients with axial spondyloarthritis and depression.
According to a study out of Germany, depression is somewhat common in patients who are battling axial spondyloarthritis. In a study of more than 1,700 patients dealing with the condition, 31 percent of patients scored a 28 or lower on the World Health Organization Well-Being Index, indicating possible moderate to severe depression. An additional 28 percent had a score between 29 and 50, suggesting mild depressive symptoms. This means roughly 60 percent of patients with axial spondyloarthritis express some degree of depressive symptoms.
Depression and Spondyloarthritis
Axial spondyloarthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that affects your spine and can contribute to problems in other areas of your body. Treating the physical condition is difficult, and while it can be treated and managed, with so much focus on the physical symptoms, oftentimes the psychological impact can go unaddressed.
Before we get into how to prevent depression if you’re dealing with spondyloarthritis or another spinal condition, it’s worth noting that it’s not just the spine pain that leads to the depressive symptoms. Researchers found that in patients with the most severe symptoms of depression, they were also more likely to work less frequently, make less money, be a smoker, exercise less frequently and have other related conditions like inflammatory bowel disease or psoriasis. Some while spine pain may contribute to the onset of depression, it is by no means the sole reason why someone may deal with depression.
So while there’s a link between spondyloarthritis and depression, that’s not necessary a bad thing, because now that we’re aware of the connection, we can be more proactive in preventing problems. So how can you best stave off depression if you’re dealing with axial spondyloarthritis or another spinal condition? Well, we can look to what’s lacking in the group with the strongest cases of depression and work backwards.
For example, studies have shown the people who get regular exercise are less likely to experience depressive symptoms, so try to stay active, even if you need to accommodate for your back pain in order to exercise. Along a similar line, make sure you are making healthy choices when it comes to your dietary intake and other lifestyle choices, like giving up smoking or limiting your alcohol intake.
You may not have a lot of control over your income, but you should be able to talk to your doctor and employer about designing a return-to-work plan so you can perform certain functions, work more hours and bring home more income. There are rehabilitation consultants and physical therapists who can help you work on certain goals that can help improve your performance in the workplace, which oftentimes can have a positive impact on your mindset.
Talk to a Spine Doctor
And finally if you just aren’t feeling right, bring these feelings up to your physician. They can connect your with a behavioral therapist or psychologist who can help you work through these feelings. Just know that you are never alone, and your medical team would be more than happy to give you more tips for improving your mental health.