Depression Masking as Pain

Patient’s Letter

Hi Dr Hanscom,

I have been meaning to check in with you for a while now and let you know that the DOC program seems to have worked for me. My lower back & leg pain has disappeared and I’m a firm believer in the process, especially the concept that anxiety is the driver of tension and pain in many cases. I picked up the book, Forgive for Good at your recommendation back in the winter and found it to be excellent. I’ve also been doing mindfulness training and it’s been extremely helpful.  If you aren’t familiar with the book, The  The Mindful Way through Depression, I’d definitely recommend checking it out.

I hope you are doing well and enjoying the summer now that it’s finally arrived.

Best, Jean

My Perspective

This patient is the daughter of an esteemed colleague of mine. She had burned out of practicing law and had embarked on a pre-med pathway at the age of 38. She had experienced low back pain for over two years. There was also significant pain, numbness, and tingling throughout her right leg. She had a normal MRI of her thoracic and lumbar spine. Electrical testing of her leg did not show any specific problems with the nerves. As I knew her father so well, I was especially anxious not to miss anything that might be serious. I could not find a structural cause for her symptoms.

I first saw her about 18 months ago, and on our last visit six months ago, she was just a little better. I tried not to be too discouraged but, I was not sure she was going to improve.

What is remarkable about her recovery is that it was truly self-directed. She did not see me in follow-up nor did she see another physician. I had recommended a mental health professional, as I thought she might be depressed. But she wouldn’t engage in that conversation. She did use the Feeling Good book and was diligent writing in David Burn’s three-column format. She also pursued obtaining a good night’s sleep, utilized the re-programming tools such as active meditation, and worked out regularly in the gym. Two years later she is re-pursuing her medical school dream.



This story is not an exception. With full engagement with a structured program the results are consistent.