Spinal Stenosis Causes Depression – True or False?

Spinal stenosis causesThe question of whether spinal stenosis causes depression is a tricky one. On the one hand, it is not a direct or absolute cause – obviously, not everyone with spinal stenosis or other degenerative spine conditions has depression. However, there is a very definite link between physical ailments and psychological conditions like depression or anxiety. In fact, studies repeatedly show that individuals who suffer from chronic back pain are more prone to developing feelings of sadness, fatigue, and isolation. More recent research even suggests that depression can actually lead to some forms of back pain. But what is the exact link between psychological and physical ailments, and what separates depression from a normal case of the blues?

It’s normal to feel sad every now and then. However, if feelings of sadness are compounded by symptoms of hopelessness, diminished appetite, sleeping problems, and fatigue that last for several weeks in a row, clinical depression may be the culprit. You may be thinking, “But spinal stenosis causes physical pain, not sadness.” While this is true, physical pain can greatly affect a person’s mental state. If the pain is severe enough, it may prevent someone from:


  • Exercising or being active
  • Being social
  • Doing fun activities
  • Sleeping
  • Doing their job well

Some studies even suggest that back pain can disrupt the body’s neurotransmitters, which control the production of serotonin (a chemical that influences how your body perceives pain) and norepinephrine (a chemical that controls mood).

Spinal stenosis causes a variety of symptoms, both physical and psychological. If you think you may be experiencing depression as a result of your back or neck pain, talk to your spine specialist or a psychologist or psychiatrist. Whether you are experiencing sadness, insomnia, reduced sex drive, anxiety, or feelings of isolation, try to describe your symptoms in as much detail as possible even if they do not seem directly related to your spinal stenosis. If your physician diagnoses you with clinical depression, he or she may prescribe an antidepressant medication, so make sure to tell your physician about all the medications you also may be taking for your spinal stenosis symptoms.

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