CRPS and the Snowball Effect: Depression

After discussion with a life long migraine sufferer, my step mom, about the snowball effect with eyes; she not only could agree, but also pointed out the direct correlation of the “Snowball effect” and depression.

  • : a state of feeling sad

  • : a serious medical condition in which a person feels very sad, hopeless, and unimportant and often is unable to live in a normal way

  • : a period of time in which there is little economic activity and many people do not have jobs


Depression under the second definition is a significant issue for many chronic pain patients. And can be caused by a multitude of factors we all have in our lives varying from medication side effects, to sleep deprivation, pain itself, or even a combination such as sleep deprivation caused as a medication side effect.

While yes, medicine can be a huge help for us, depression is often something many don’t want to discuss, admit, or treat. We hesitate talking about it because we dread the doctors will force yet another pill on us, it’s just ONE MORE PILL none of us want to take in the first place and we’ll be less human with it. So we don’t treat it. We don’t talk about the things that make us sad. Which that silence in turn makes us feel more hopeless. All the while adding to that alienation feeling we already have dealing with our pain and inability to easily socialize.

In early 2000’s, research started investigating the ties between pain and emotions. This led to a publication in 2010 that found in fact “Negative Emotions Increase Pain.” With that thought in mind, our medical professionals are only now starting to recognize our depression adds to our pain. Which again can add to problem of feeling isolated. This depression increased pain can also add to our problems sleeping, even need more medicine, which again could add to more problems sleeping. All the while decreasing our mood…

As you can see this snowball slides down the mountainside picking up speed, sometimes even risking becoming a full-fledged avalanche. But we can slow this down, we all have tools available that can help.

  1. Seek medical help:
    1. if you think it can be managed without medicines, seek out a psychologist.
    2. if you think you may need medicine, find a psychiatrist.
    3. better yet, seek an office who has BOTH. This offers you the help finding which (medicine or no medicine) is better for your situation and promotes options where you come off when you’re feeling more you and the doctors think it’s safe to come off together.
  2. Talk with friends about things, we all know that sometimes someone who understands, we feel better
    1. Remember to listen to those friends, if they think you need to see professional help, then they care enough to urge you to take care of you
    2. Remember good friends LISTEN back, so don’t neglect your friendships because you feel miserable. Sometimes just listening to them can help you feel like you’ve accomplished something so don’t forget this important part of being a friend.
  3. Make a private blog to just vent both the good and the bad.
    1. US Pain just the other day shared a great reminder on this:
  4. And if you are at the edge, if you only see the blackness of the negative emotions around you, PLEASE call the suicide hotline.
    1. NOTE: We previously wrote about calling Suicide Prevention to help remind people to make sure to clarify things so there isn’t a miscommunication. Because if we need to call, we NEED to talk to someone. And just having that person to listen, to talk with about everything going on to get us through until we can get to our doctor. Sometimes that is the one grounding we need.

So no matter what you choose, or how many of these ideas you choose, DON’T try to do it alone if you have harmful thoughts about yourself or others. You are not alone and don’t have to be. Depression can and WILL snowball, but we can try to keep it from becoming an avalanche.

One Reply to “CRPS and the Snowball Effect: Depression”

  1. Well said. While the medical community is trained to look for signs of depression in patients with chronic pain, I think they underestimate how quickly “mild” chronic depression can snowball into a major depressive episode, and downplay the impact of potential side effects when prescribing medications. For example, they may consider weight gain an insignificant side effect, forgetting that aerobic exercise is not going to happen when someone has severe joint pain, and therefore, extra weight may remain long after the medication is discontinued. “Trouble sleeping” is not a minor side-effect when sleep is absolutely necessary for recuperation, or when it’s a patient’s only refuge. It’s good to see an article about this! It’s so much easier to keep that snowball from forming in the first place, than to hold it back once it’s rolling down the hillside, gathering mass and speed.

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