how depression hurts


Depression Hurts In more than one way

“Depression hurts” is how Eli Lilly & Co. spent $128 million promoting  Cymbalta in 2007. One  of the best ad campaigns Cymbalta ever had was in 2007 and they were very pleased by the response to it. The main idea was simple: depression hurts. People suffering from depression loved the commercials, because it captured their experience on several different level s.    Cymbalta is actually used widely now for depression, and also, for depression coocuring with chronic pain. You can check out one of these  ads here. People who are suffering from migraines, fibromyalgia or back injury along with depression are likely to have it suggested to them by their

Part of the reason that slogan  was so successful, is that it captured the experience of people who are depressed so perfectly. The pain of depression can be physical, it can be emotional, and we feel it’s impact on a relational and societal level. Below I  will talk about some of those issues.


Depressions hurts by  creating or EXACERBATING PHYSICAL pain

 Depression hurts physically, literally. The same pathways that are implicated in  causing the syndrome of depression are responsible for pain. There is evidence that these pathways can become triggered and/ or more sensitive when a person is depressed. In this way the pain from depression  is not just emotional, but  physical.

The mind- body connection,  has been incorporated more into western medicine over the last 20 years. There have been many peer reviewed journals that have documented, for example, that the relaxation response, can affect the heart rate, blood pressure, and  anxiety, to name a few. The mind seems to have an intimate relationship with your gut, your skin, illness, and with pain in general. Many people who have chronic pain suffer from depression, and studies show that people who suffer from depression more often struggle with chronic pain.

If you are a person who suffers from double pain it is important for you to understand the reciprocal relationship. If you are seeing a doctor for chronic pain, explore whether your mood has been impacted and get help for it. If you know you have depression and chronic pain, understand that your pain IS impacted by your stress and your mind.

The more that we learn about physical pain, the more we learn about it’s intimate relationship with depression and our direct ability to impact them both through techniques that help care for our mind. These techniques have to do with relaxation, stress management, yoga, meditation, and mindfulness based interventions.

Additionally , depression interacts with diseases of the heart, arthritis, the stomach, cancer, and almost every one we know about.  Depression affects the entire body. For example,

Depression develops in one in four people who have had heart attacks. When it strikes, the risk of dying is three and a half times greater than if the victims were not depressed, studies show, making it as great a risk factor as smoking ( Duenwald 2003).


Depression hurts by isolating the person who is suffering from it.

So many of my clients who come to therapy with depression are in tremendous emotional pain. Depression has stripped them of their desire to do this things they love, to function in their workplace, to enjoy their social connections and generally to just  feel like themselves. They wonder if they will ever be able to be themselves again, feel joy, or connect with the outside world. Depression is incredibly painful
 for the individual experiencing it.

One of the parts of depression that hurts is the isolation that comes with it.

 A depressed person may  isolate themselves because of the energy it takes to be with others. They also may experience more negative feelings when with  others because they can’t feel normal, or feel like they are bringing others down. Also, because most people are not good at reaching out to someone who is depressed, or supporting them, the  depressed person might find themself  further isolated.  Sometimes it can be helpful just to have someone who is able to listen to your experience in the form of a support group or therapy session. Part of depression is feeling alone and disconnected and so this further serves to create that sense of isolation.

 Yet many people can get better! Many people heal and get better from depression and are able to put plans in place to ward of depressive episodes in the future by learning new coping and problem solving skills such as mindfulness, self compassion and other stress management skills.

Depression is temporary! Depression hurts emotionally sometimes so much that it is difficult to see past the pain and understand that this is a temporary state. Most forms of depression are highly treatable with therapy and/ or antidepressants.  Many forms of help are out there. Good therapy, support groups, medication, or alternative forms of healing are all worth trying.


Depression hurts families , workplaces and communities

In the workplace depression has astronomical costs. Workers who are depressed often come to work, but are engaged and not able to do their work well. One study estimated the cost at   $44 billion a year in lost productive time $31 billion more than the amount lost because of illnesses ( Duenwald 2003).

At home, depression often costs people their relationship with their children and their spouses.  It can have a  corrosive  impact on relationships which, when left unaddressed suffer, or end. 




Medical information obtained from this website is not intended as a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you have a problem, you should consult a healthcare provider.

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