Pelvic Pain and Depression: What's the Link?

Depression is often regarded as a health condition that affects a person’s mental wellness. But the reality is that mental and physical health are deeply connected.

At Gynecology and Obstetrics Medical Group in Long Beach, California, Dr. Essam Taymour understands that there’s a connection between pelvic pain and depression. He specializes in pinpointing the source of your pelvic pain and providing the treatment you need so you can feel like yourself again.

Here, we explore the link between pelvic pain and depression and the treatment options that alleviate both your physical and mental symptoms.

Chronic pain and depression

Chronic pain and depression have a tangled and complex relationship. Chronic pain can contribute to and exacerbate the symptoms of depression. That’s because living with chronic pain and continually trying to find relief, unsuccessfully, is hard on your mental well-being. 

On the flip side, struggling with depression can make you more sensitive to pain because both chronic pain and depression share some of the same neurotransmitters, or chemical messengers. Both depression and chronic pain use the same nerve pathways to send messages to the brain. The majority — about 85% — of individuals with depression report chronic pain, according to a study published in 2017.

These facts are true for any type of chronic pain, including chronic pelvic pain. According to a study published in 2019 in the Journal of Pain Research, 63% of women with chronic pelvic pain also noted symptoms of depression. A Brazilian study found this number to be even higher, at 73%.

Which comes first: depression or chronic pain?

There’s no doubt that depression and chronic pain are linked, but it’s not always apparent which condition contributed to the other. 

For example, depression may exacerbate your pelvic pain. Remember, depression makes the body more sensitive to pain. On the other hand, unsuccessful attempts to reduce pelvic pain can contribute to feelings of frustration and depression.

Treating pelvic pain

If chronic pelvic pain is contributing to your depression, the first step is to determine the cause of your pain so you can get proper treatment for the pain. Pelvic pain can be caused by:

Once Dr. Taymour identifies the source of your pelvic pain, he can suggest treatment options, many of which may be nonsurgical. In more severe cases, especially if conservative options have provided little to no relief, he may suggest minimally invasive surgery to alleviate your pain. Proper treatment can have a positive effect on the depression associated with chronic pain.

Treating depression

Depression is a mental health condition that may cause appetite changes, sleep changes, loss of passion for your hobbies, and fatigue. Depression and anxiety are two common emotional conditions that can affect women in perimenopause and menopause.

Depression and other mood disturbances are often treated with talk therapy, hormone therapy to restore balance, and antidepressants. 

If your quality of life is suffering as a result of pelvic pain and emotional changes that occur with perimenopause, you don’t have to accept it as the status quo. As a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist, Dr. Taymour has years of experience helping women overcome the challenges of both pelvic pain and related depression. 

Call our office today at 562-247-3038 to schedule a comprehensive exam, or use our convenient online booking tool to request an appointment.

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