Can Depression Cause Pain?


Depression & Pain

Around 450 million worldwide suffer from mental health conditions. Out of these, two-thirds of people with mental health problems never see a doctor about it.  Some of the reasons for this are that unlike most diseases and illnesses, it’s commonly assumed that any complaints of physical pain are ‘all in the head.’ This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Depression, one of the more common mental health conditions, has been proven to cause physical pain.  Recognizing what these are can help you know when to seek help, be it for yourself or your loved one. 

Here are some forms of physical pain that stem from depression.

Decreased pain tolerance

Depression and pain seem to be happy bedfellows. 

You might feel like your nerves hurt, almost like your entire body is in pain. 

Two separate studies proved that depression can lower one’s pain tolerance and that pain significantly impacts depressed people.

What’s even more interesting is that antidepressants are also known to have to act as analgesics, aside from relieving depression. 

Stomach or abdominal pain

A queasy stomach is often written off as menstrual cramps or gas. 

A Harvard study suggests that stomach cramps, nausea, and bloating have a direct link to mental health problems.

What is the link between the two? According to the Harvard study, depression can result from or can cause an inflamed digestive system. This pain is often mistaken for inflammatory bowel diseases.

The gut is often referred to as the second brain because scientists and researchers have found connections between mental wellbeing and gut health. 

Digestive problems

Digestive issues like diarrhea and constipation are not only embarrassing; they are painful.

These are often caused by gastrointestinal viruses or food poisoning. This makes it easy to assume that these are symptoms of a physical illness rather than mental ones.

However, intense feelings of anxiety, sadness, and overwhelm can severely disrupt the digestive tract.


Everyday life stressors make headaches quite common, and nothing much is thought of them. 

However, when the prevalence of occasional headaches grows into an everyday thing, it could be a sign of depression. 

Depression headaches are different from migraines. They do not impair one’s functioning, but you find yourself going through the day with a mild throbbing, more so around the eyebrow areas. 

While tension headaches by themselves do not indicate psychological problems, when coupled with decreased energy, irritability, and sadness, it’s worth a trip to the doctors.

Chronic pain

Depression comes with anxiety. Anxiety has been linked to multiple chronic pain disorders.

One of these is arthritis, which causes stiffness, pain, inflammation, and damages bone cartilage.

The other is fibromyalgia that causes widespread fatigue and muscle pain. 

One other common problem is back pain. The symptoms of these are anything from stiffness and aches along the spine as well as localized upper or lower back pain. 


Pain is one way your body uses to communicate with your brain. Anytime you experience these symptoms for an extended period, without a clear cause and effect, you should discuss them with a doctor. Chronic Pain can be caused by depression and a wide variety of other factors.

This is more so if you have other emotional sighs of depression like sadness, suicidal thoughts, and so on. 

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