The Southeastern Spine Institute

How Do I Stay Healthy When I’m Down?

How to stay healthy when you’re in pain — either physically or mentally — varies depending on your mental health diagnosis. There’s a complex link between your mood and your overall well-being. You may experience persistent back pain, for example, that doesn’t respond to any treatment. That may indicate a mood or mental health connection.

When you’re struggling with mood and mental health issues, studies show that this can and will trigger nerves and pain responses within your body. The pain and the anguish form a vicious cycle: your pain causes your mood to sink and your low mood makes your body ache even more.

What Physical Symptoms Should I Watch For?

While your body can respond in a variety of ways to mental health issues, certain symptoms that may indicate a mood disorder. After you’ve tried a variety of treatments from your pain specialist at the Southeastern Spine Institute to learn how to stay healthy, some symptoms don’t disappear. These include:

  • Back pain, especially chronic low back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Stomachaches and other digestive issues
  • Fatigue
  • General overall aches and pains

If you haven’t been diagnosed with a mood disorder, these physical responses may be the first or only symptoms of your mood issue. Your doctor at the Southeastern Spine Institute tests for any physical injuries or impairments and makes recommendations if it appears that your pain is linked to your mood or mental health.

While you’re seeking a diagnosis for your mental health, your spinal medicine doctor’s recommendations on how to stay healthy may involve rest, diet changes or even light exercise. These actions may lead you to feel better mentally and emotionally. Follow your doctor’s recommendations as you explore potential mental health diagnoses.

What Mental Health Diagnoses Can Lead to Back Pain?

Without even realizing it, you may already associate certain physical pains with your level of stress or your mental health state. On the other hand, you may not make a connection between your chronic lower back pain and your current mental health state. Some of the most common mental health diagnoses that have a link with physical health include:

  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Social anxiety
  • A specific phobia
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Major depressive disorder

What Changes Will I Have to Make to Get Healthy Again?

Once you have a mood or mental health diagnosis and a link with your physical pain is established, you may require some lifestyle changes to get healthy. Your doctor and mental health specialist may recommend a combination of steps for how to stay healthy, such as:

  • Regular exercise
  • Meditation
  • Quitting smoking
  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Talk therapy, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Medication that treats both your mood and your nervous system
  • Alternative treatments, such as acupuncture or hypnosis

Keep in mind that both the physical pain and your mood issues need to be treated to break the cycle of pain leading to a low mood and vice versa. It may take some time to put together the right combination of treatment, medications and exercise before you learn how to stay healthy. This is not a quick process, so be patient and make sure you have a Southeastern Spine Institute provider on your medical team.