Contrary to some beliefs, depression is not a purely psychological condition. Many systemic factors—from chemical imbalances to chronic pain—can trigger depression. When medication and therapy fail, however, physical therapy can often help people who suffer from depression.
Because chronic pain is a leading cause of depression, we can help a person alter his or her behaviors to reduce pain in daily life. Workers injured on the job often fall into depression brought on by chronic pain that can be alleviated through exercise and lifestyle alteration. Women suffering from postpartum depression have been found to show significant improvement when they engage in an exercise program.
Individualized courses of exercise therapy show strong results in combating depression. Endorphins released by the brain during exercise have been shown to reduce pain and improve mood. Exercise also helps people whose depression is linked to issues with poor self-esteem or body image.
Physical therapists can also fight depression through the simple act of diagnosing the illness. Often, during a course of physical therapy for another condition, we can recognize when a patient shows signs of depression. We work with specialists who can point the patient to treatments that can help alleviate symptoms that cannot be treated physically. Very often, depressed patients suffer from psychosomatic conditions that do not result from any physical injuries or diseases. The ability to recognize that the source of pain is not physical in origin can be crucial to help a person in need.
Ultimately, we can be vital allies for people who suffer from depression. Our training and skills give us powerful insights into its causes, effects and treatments, along with the ability to help our patients to feel better. If you are feeling “blue” because of pain or poor self-esteem that threatens to overwhelm you, give us a call. We can start a physical therapy program to help alleviate your pain and lighten your mood so you can enjoy life and experience pleasure once again.