How Love Helps Chronic Pain

Couple making a heart of their hands

For many people who suffer from chronic pain, depression is an unfortunate consequence.  However, recent research shows that people in comforting relationships are more likely to avoid depression.  In spite of the physical pain some people feel, support at home can help alleviate the additional burden of emotional pain.

Researchers in Australia tracked 99 people who received treatment at one of two pain clinics.  The majority of these subjects suffered from pain in their lower backs or limbs.  Both before and after their treatment, participants filled out surveys by answering questions with numerical ratings.  These questions were derived from previous studies and are considered accurate ways to measure pain, depression, and relationships security.  While pain and depression had previously been linked, the data on personal relationships added a new element to the study.

The findings were clear: those who indicated they were in secure relationships and felt supported in their social life were less likely to suffer from depression. Furthermore, those who did not have adequate social support were prime candidates to experience depression.  Simply being a relationship was not adequate enough; although 66% of the subjects were married or in serious relationships, their self-assessment of the quality of these relationships proved more telling in predicting depression.

Ultimately, the researchers concluded that rehabilitation programs should take relationship status into account when treating patients.  People without strong interpersonal attachments may need a more specialized intervention in order to alleviate feelings of depression.

Nurturing relationships can improve our mental health, despite the presence of chronic pain.  Ultimately, having healthy emotional support at home can go a long way toward alleviating depression.

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