Now, for the actual entry. My final part on my three-part depression and chronic pain entry. Already we have gone over more personal side of depression and endometriosis pain/problems, as well as the scientific research supporting the link. Today is all about what a person can do about it.
We've established that the combination of pain, treatments, and social isolation of endometriosis can lead to depression. And that such depression can intensify the pain--a dangerous and scary cycle. You or a loved one could be trapped in it right now. So when preparing for an escape from that vortex, one must be prepared to deal with all the factors that created it. Never approach it with a one-sided or single treatment. (Also, do not just take my word for these treatments. Do research, investigate for yourself. No matter how big of a nerd I may be, I'm not a doctor. Please remember that this advice is no substitute for an actual medical professional (which hopefully, once my endometriosis is under control, I will some day be))
First off, there are medical treatments that can help. As in prescriptions. Personally, I have never been a huge advocate of the personal-pharmaceutical-bathroom-counter approach. Having dozens of pills a day can lead to serious problems down the road. But there are a couple medications that can really help. First off, hormonal treatments can help limit the cyclical pain of endometriosis. Which one will work for a specific person, I can't say. It's very individual. But getting that side of the disease a little more under control can help your overall being. Secondly, an antidepressant can also help both depression and chronic pain. Antidepressants are actually often used to help treat chronic pain. It helps by reducing the severity of perceived pain--meaning it will reduce how badly something hurts without actually treating the pain's cause. That may seem like a sloppy way to combat pain, but by reducing that pain perception, it can help gradually relax your body's response to pain and give it an internal environment more conducive to bodily repair. Being constantly stressed out or depressed can heighten your body's 'freak out' response and lower it's ability to deal with internal problems (like immune responses). By treating the brain imbalances caused by depression and/or chronic pain, you can help deal with that pain.
There are other, non-prescription methods of dealing with the cycle of endometriosis and depression. And taking a 'whole life' approach to dealing with that cycle is pivotal for escape. As I said, there are many different contributing factors for that cycle, and you need to deal with all of them.
Some of these methods include body care. A critical method is exercise. Often people in chronic pain avoid exercise. But in fact, exercise can help reduce the severity of perceived pain and strengthen the body against further injury. Additionally, it is a natural antidepressant (same chemicals are 'produced'). And, specifically for endometriosis, it can help the body better prevent further adhesions.
Other methods are more psychological. Things such as recovering control over one's life and therapy. Endometriosis makes a person feel lost in their own life. The pain and issues it causes restrict social activity and productivity. It can make a person feel helpless. And feelings of helplessness are prime factors in causing depression. So find ways to take control and reject feelings of helplessness. Even little things, such as a part time job, hobbies, self transportation, or making a website (hint hint) can help restore an individual's feeling of control. Additionally, psychological therapy is a valuable tool for combating depression. My personal favorite (and the one deemed most effective for long-term problems) is cognitive-behavioral therapy. It assesses what behaviors and factors reinforce feelings of depression and teaches the patient how to deal with them head on. It can change the way a person thinks/feels about something and can make you aware of negative influences you were not even aware of.
Last, teaming up with doctors that specialize in pain management (in addition to your primary health specialist) can help you launch a full-on attack against chronic pain and depression. Pain clinics are prepared to help people who deal with long time chronic pain and will be more understanding of what you may personally need to restore balance to your life. They recognize that both pain and depression play into your current status and will often recommend treatments that helpful for dealing with both.
If you or someone you care about is dealing with endometriosis/chronic pain and depression, or even presents signs of such the case, help by making yourself/them aware of your options and tactics for treatment. Just ignoring it will not make the problem go away. Just dealing with one side will not make the problem go away. The cycle of endometriosis and depression is a real problem and has real consequences. Take charge of it and prepare yourself to effectively handle your life!