The Relationship Between Pain & Depression

PainAssistive technology professionals aren’t expected to also provide psychological counseling, but chances are good that at some point in their careers, they will work with clients who exhibit signs of depression.

Permobil’s Amy Meyer says that when she sees a client in pain, she thinks about the emotional toll. “They’re already in a situation where they’re disabled,” she says. “I immediately think, ‘Are they going to shut down, are they not going to be interactive socially, are they not going to put forth the efforts to extend themselves fully to their capabilities?’” Add pain to the mix, she says, “and you exponentially increase that risk for depression and lack of involvement and lack of socialization, all those things that are critical to us having a productive and happy life.”

Meyer adds, “If they’re not seeing another professional and I see they’re at high risk or exhibiting signs of depression, it’s my job, my ethical obligation to refer them or talk to their physician and express my concerns. That makes for the best management of a client, if you have a team of professionals that are all working within their expertise.”

Pride Mobility Products’ Jay Doherty adds that when working with clients who might be exhibiting signs of depression, “I’m going to talk to the person about what are their goals — what would you like to be able to achieve? — set up those goals, and meet those goals the best we can. And in doing so, hopefully there’ll be a change in that depression because they’ll actually be achieving something that they want to achieve. I think if we can find out what their goals are and we can start to achieve those goals, that can certainly help somebody with their level of depression. They can start doing things for themselves.

“It also wouldn’t hurt to talk about getting some medical help for the individual if they really are that depressed. We certainly don’t want that to get out of hand.”

This article originally appeared in the September 2010 issue of Mobility Management.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at

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