Chronic pain affects more than a third of the UK adult population, with depression impacting around 4% of Britons aged 18 and above. Pain and depression are closely linked. Pain can cause depression and depression can cause pain. Sometimes pain and depression create a vicious cycle in which pain worsens symptoms of depression, and then the resulting depression worsens feelings of pain.

What is depression?

Depression, is a serious mental illness which interferes with your daily life and routine, and reduces your quality of life.

 Signs and Symptoms of Depression

  • Ongoing sad, anxious, or empty feelings
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless
  • Feeling irritable or restless
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once enjoyable
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, a condition called insomnia, or sleeping all the time
  • Overeating or loss of appetite
  • Thoughts of death and suicide or suicide attempts
  • Ongoing aches and pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease with treatment.

What is chronic pain?

Chronic pain is pain that lasts for weeks, months, or even years. It often does not ease with regular pain medication. Chronic pain can have a distinct cause, such as a temporary injury or infection or a long-term disease. But some chronic pain has no obvious cause. Like depression, chronic pain can cause problems with sleep and daily activities, reducing your quality of life.

How are depression and chronic pain linked?

Bodily aches and pains are a common symptom of depression. Studies show that people with more severe depression feel more intense pain. According to recent research, people with depression have higher than normal levels of proteins called cytokines which send messages to cells that affect how the immune system responds to infection and disease, including the strength and length of the response. In this way, cytokines can trigger pain by promoting inflammation, which is the body’s response to infection or injury. Inflammation helps protect the body by destroying, removing, or isolating the infected or injured area. In addition to pain, signs of inflammation include swelling, redness, heat, and sometimes loss of function.

Many studies are finding that inflammation may be a link between depression and illnesses that often occur with depression. Further research may help doctors and scientists better understand this connection and find better ways to diagnose and treat depression and other illnesses.

One disorder that has been shown to occur with depression is fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia causes chronic, widespread muscle pain, tiredness, and multiple tender points—places on the body that hurt in response to light pressure. People with fibromyalgia are more likely to have depression and other mental illnesses than the general population. Studies have shown that depression and fibromyalgia share risk factors and treatments.

Why choose rTMS for treatment of depression in chronic pain sufferers?

Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation procedure is a highly successful non-invasive, medication free treatment for all types of depression and anxiety. There are no preparations needed to be made by the patient beforehand, and no recovery period after a rTMS session, with people able to resume their daily activities immediately. Along with cytokines, both conditions share deficits in GABA and rTMS also works on GABAergic system.

Senior Consultant Psychiatrist at Tranquil TMS, Dr Nikhila Deshpande, explains how rTMS treats the condition: “Chronic pain causes a huge burden on the individual and the society. Depression is very common in people suffering from chronic pain. Depression and chronic pain are interlinked. rTMS is a very effective treatment for depression which in turn helps pain perception. Patients then are able to cope much better with their pain.”

rTMS is covered by a number of insurance companies and is NICE and FDA approved. For more information or to book a free telephone consultation with one of our specialists, please call 0800 193 0914 or visit

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