The Pain–Depression connection

Posted by Melissa Callaghan on

Serotonin plays a major role in modulating pain perception as well as depression.

The majority of Serotonin is produced in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT). Serotonin regulates many areas including appetite, food intake, mood, attention span, focus, anger, aggression, memory and even motility in the GIT. If the GIT isn’t working properly then many other functions won’t work properly eg loss of appetite, constipation, irritable bowel. Poor diet, stress, alcohol all lower serotonin leading to anxiety and depression. 

Gastrointestinal upsets and anxiety/depression and pain often go hand in hand.

Chronic Pain and depression – (Chronic = long term, more than 6 months)

Biologically, depression has been connected to the dysregulation of the neurotransmitter serotonin as well as another neurotransmitter norepinephrine. A dysregulation of both of these neurotransmitters has also been connected to chronic pain. This is why pharmaceutical medication for depression is often prescribed for chronic pain.

As a Naturopath both herbal and/or nutritional supplements are used when working in both of these areas to help and support treatment.

There are many herbs that are used for pain and others that we combine into a mix that help with anxiety and depression. Each individual herb is chosen based on your presenting symptoms and the mechanism that the herb works on in your body. The herbs are combined into a formula specifically for you. 

Nutritional supplements may also be chosen as part of your treatment plan.

As low serotonin levels have been associated with chronic pain there are nutrients that will be chosen that may help to reduce pain as well as depression. These nutrients need to be selected at the right dosage for you which is why seeing a Naturopath means there is less chance of wasting your money buying something off the shelf that may be the wrong dosage or form for your needs.

Why are there so many options for treatment? Because each and every person is different and different people require a treatment plan specifically tailored to those particular signs and symptoms.

Who am I?

I am a Bachelor qualified Naturopath who specialises in improving metabolic processes in the body. Major areas for improvement include gut, thyroid, kidney, skin and liver health. Conditions such as hypothyroidism, fatty liver, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type II diabetes, & irritable bowel conditions. I help my patients by giving them symptomatic relief while working on repairing the underlying causes of metabolic stress and waste accumulation. Patients experience amazing results which are seen in their blood tests with improved thyroid markers, cholesterol, and liver markers.  As well as lower blood pressure and see relief from improved gastrointestinal symptoms like the ones that mean you need to know where every single toilet is before you leave the house.

Melissa Callaghan ND, BHSc, BTeach
Clinical Naturopath


To book an appointment click here 



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