Depression and Chronic Pain.

Depression is a common experience among people living with chronic pain.  An Angus Reid survey done by in partnership with Pain BC and Mindset Social Innovation Foundation found that four-in-five Canadians experiencing significant ongoing pain (83%) say it prevents them from doing regular activities, and for more than half (57%), it contributes to anxiety and depression.

When persistent pain interferes with your ability to work, socialize or do leisure activities, you may notice a change in your mood, appetite, sleep or activity levels. You may not be interested in doing things you usually enjoy. Fortunately, there are some very good resources available to support you.

Emotions and Chronic Pain

Emotional changes are a natural part of the experience of persistent pain. Your emotions are created by the way you think about things happening in your life, rather than by the things themselves. You can learn to have control of your thoughts and by doing that change your emotions. So even if your pain continues, you can improve your mood and in turn, manage your pain better.

Developing healthy thinking

Cognitive-behaviour therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that can help you replace negative thoughts that discourage you with alternative thoughts that help improve your mood. CBT can help change the way people view their pain and reduce the negative response from the brain that can make pain worse. 

CBT involves steps such as learning to monitor your thoughts and to identify the particular thoughts that trigger the negative moods. Then, you decide how true those thoughts are and have the option of replacing them with alternative or balanced thoughts that lead towards mood change and improvement. With practice and effort, it will become more natural and you will see improvements in your mood. 

Visit HealthLink BC on how to stop negative thoughts.

Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a type of therapy which uses an action oriented approach with acceptance, commitment and mindfulness strategies to work towards behaviour-change that can positively improve a person’s quality of life. The main goal of ACT for chronic pain is to help people improve quality of life through clarifying their values.

  •  Free on-line self-help course from Wales Public Health site. It is meant to be a beginning step for those who are looking to develop skills and actions to improve mental health and well-being.

Getting help

  • Often a good place to start is speaking with your primary care provider or any other health care professional you feel comfortable with. They can provide you with direction on next steps and help you find the support you need.
  • Fraser Health Crisis Line: 604-951-8855 or toll-free 1-877-820-7444. Trained volunteers provide toll-free telephone support and crisis intervention counselling, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Culturally sensitive crisis line for Aboriginal peoples: 1-800-KUU-US17 (588-8717). Provides culturally sensitive support and counselling to Aboriginal peoples 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Psychologists and clinical counsellors can help you learn how to live life with chronic pain. Learn more about accessing chronic pain care.


On-line and Community Resources

Here to Help is a BC website to help find quality information, learn new skills, and connect with key resources in BC. Explore strategies to help you take care of your mental health and use substances in healthier ways, find the information you need to manage mental health and substance use problems, and learn how you can support a loved one.

The YMCA offers a free adult seven-week program for those who are experiencing stress and mild to moderate anxiety. Participants will learn evidence-based strategies to increase coping. This group is led by trained mental health professionals and gives adults the chance to connect with others who are experiencing similar thoughts and feelings. Made possible through our funding partners.

  • BounceBack: Reclaim Your Health program
    This program is designed to help adults with mild to moderate depression, low mood or stress. Delivered online or over the phone with a coach, you will get access to tools that will support you on your path to mental wellness.
  • Wellness Together Canada 
    This is a mental health and substance use website funded by the Government of Canada to support people across Canada and Canadians living abroad in both official languages. They provide the following resources no cost