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Mentally Coping With Chronic Pain

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How You Talk About Chronic Pain Affects Your Healing

Dealing With the Mental Health Side of Chronic Pain

How you regard your chronic pain experience will become one of the most significant predictors of whether youll ever overcome it or not. Were not talking about toxic positivity here. Instead, were talking about achieving acceptance and being at peace with that. A 2011 Cornell University study found that your outlook on life can minimize or aggravate chronic pain.

See, using combative language to talk about your health can cause you to slip into fight or flight modeand if youve been reading our blog, you know its almost impossible to heal when your body is in fight or flight or a sympathetic state. Chronic illness and pain are a journey to be bravely traveled, not a battle to be waged and won . Once you take winning out of the equation, losing becomes impossible by default.

The bottom line is this: chronic illness isnt something to either win or lose. Overcoming chronic pain is more about managing your symptoms and adjusting your lifestyle to accommodate your body in the here and now until deeper healing can occur.

Seek Professional Helpyoure Not Alone

Up to 90% of patients that have chronic pain fit into the diagnoses of clinical depression and anxiety, yet go untreated. In other words, theyre not seeing a licensed psychiatrist that can help them professionally process and manage their emotions, thoughts, and experiences.

Though these coping mechanisms are powerful, there is a point where seeking professional medical treatment can help you problem-solve and change behavior patterns that are exacerbating your symptoms.

Chronic pain is a multi-faceted condition that requires a multi-faceted plan of care.

From experience, we know that cognitive therapy is an effective and underleveraged pain management technique that can greatly reduce the suffering you may feel.

We pride ourselves on being a multi-modal clinic that provides you with not only pain management specialists but also licensed psychologists to help you treat the mental and emotional side effects of pain.

Reach out to our 24/7 live chat to learn more or book an appointment to speak to one of our on-site licensed therapists to dive deeper into a personalized coping mechanism for your pain.

Started Wondering Whether She Was Imagining The Pain So Stopped Talking Her Medication And Found

Many people experienced feelings of Why me? What have I done to deserve this? although some offset this by saying that it could happen to anyone and there were people worse off than them. However, these feelings could resurface when people were having a particularly bad time. A man who sometimes felt this way tried to avoid a downward spiral by thinking positively.

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Plumbing Psychology To Deal With Pain

There used to be hundreds of integrated pain management centers all across the country. But in the 90s, the insurance market shifted more patients joined managed care plans that limited them to a narrow network of doctors. Then in 1996, the powerful opioid OxyContin hit the market. It quickly became the tool of choice for controlling pain.

Soon, there were just four major integrated pain management centers left: Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins University, Cleveland Clinic, and Stanford University.

The Mayo Clinics outpatient pain program runs for three weeks, and keeps patients busy from 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

They do physical and occupational therapy learning, for instance, how to go shopping or do yard work in ways that wont aggregate their pain. And the program includes four to five hours of lessons each day on how to understand pain. Patients learn to relax, breathe slowly, and meditate to mitigate some of the anxiety-related pain flare-ups. Entire sessions are dedicated to understanding the psychological underpinnings of their own pain.

By the time people get here, they have a lot of functional disability, said Sperry, who helps run the program. Theyre fearful, because theyre getting such strong signals in the brain so we offer a very structured increase in activity, where were retraining the brain to soothe the central nervous system to not process these signals as danger.

Jeannie Sperry, Mayo Clinic

Can Lifestyle Changes Help With Chronic Pain

Pin on Coping with chronic illness/pain

Four major lifestyle factors can affect your chronic pain and help minimize it. Healthcare providers sometimes call them the four pillars of chronic pain. They include:

  • Stress: Stress can play a major role in chronic pain, so its important to try to reduce your stress as much as possible. Everyone has different techniques for managing their stress, but some techniques include meditation, mindfulness and deep breathing. Try different options until you find what works best for you.
  • Exercise: Participating in low-intensity exercises, such as walking or light swimming, for 30 minutes every day may help reduce your pain. Exercise can also be a stress reliever for some people, which is important to manage when you have chronic pain.
  • Diet: Its important to eat a healthy diet to boost your overall health. Your healthcare provider may suggest trying an anti-inflammatory diet by eliminating foods that cause inflammation, such as red meat and refined carbohydrates.
  • Sleep: Getting enough quality sleep is important for your overall health. A lack of sleep can cause you to gain weight, which could make your chronic pain worse. Getting quality sleep is also important for stress management.

Be sure to discuss these four lifestyle pillars with your healthcare provider to determine how each applies to your type of chronic pain and how you can incorporate changes into your day-to-day life.

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Chronic Pain And Mental Health

At some time in our lives we will all experience painphysical and/or emotional discomfort caused by illness, injury, or an upsetting event. Though most of us would rather avoid it, pain does serve an actual purpose that is good and seen as protective. For example, when you experience pain your brain signals you to stop doing whatever is causing the pain, preventing further harm to your body.

Pain, however, is not meant to last for a long time. Pain that typically lasts less than 3 to 6 months is called acute pain, which is the form of pain most of us experience. For some people, pain can be ongoing or go away and then come back, lasting beyond the usual course of 3 to 6 months and negatively affecting a persons well-being. This is called chronic pain or persistent pain. Put simply, chronic or persistent pain is pain that continues when it should not.

Chronic pain is often associated with other health conditions such as anxiety and depression, resulting in a low health-related quality of life.

Living with daily pain is physically and emotionally stressful. Chronic stress is known to change the levels of stress hormones and neurochemicals found within your brain and nervous system these can affect your mood, thinking and behavior. Disrupting your bodys balance of these chemicals can bring on depression in some people.

Common Chronic Pain Conditions And Their Association With Mental Health

Arthritis: Arthritis is inflammation of one or more of your joints, which can cause disabling pain. There are more than 100 different forms of arthritis. The most common types include:

  • Osteoarthritis : protective cartilage inside the joint breaks down, making movement more difficult and painful – throughout time, bones of the joint may rub directly together, causing severe pain.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis : joints and organs are attacked by the bodys own immune system ongoing inflammation breaks down the joints and damages it permanently.
  • Psoriatic arthritis : the immune system attacks the body, causing inflammation and pain joints, connective tissue, and the skin are all affected by PsA.

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis which typically affects the hands, knees, hip, and spine. Osteoarthritis, however, has the ability to affect any joint and cause joint deformity and chronic disability.

Specific mood and anxiety disorders occur at higher rates among those with arthritis than those without arthritis.

Due to pain, limitation of movement, and impairment of the joints, osteoarthritis may reduce a persons ability to complete daily activities and can sometimes keep people from participating in social activities. The frustration with the inability to meet lifes demands and isolation from not being able to participate in social activities may lead to development of mental health conditions like depression, which can happen at any age.

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Eat A Healthy Diet If You’re Living With Chronic Pain

A well-balanced diet is important in many ways — aiding your digestive process, reducing heart disease risk, keeping weight under control, and improving blood sugar levels. To eat a low-fat, low-sodium diet, choose from these: fresh fruits and vegetables cooked dried beans and peas whole-grain breads and cereals low-fat cheese, milk, and yogurt and lean meats.

Chronic Pain And Mental Health Often Interconnected

Depression and Chronic Pain | Kati Morton
  • Anxiety, Depression, Patients and Families

Chronic pain and mental health disorders often occur together. In fact, research suggests that chronic pain and mental health problems can contribute to and exacerbate the other.

People living with chronic pain are at heightened risk for mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders. Chronic pain can affect sleep, increase stress levels and contribute to depression. An estimated 35% to 45% of people with chronic pain experience depression.1 Pain can also be a common symptom among people with an anxiety disorder, particularly generalized anxiety disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America . Anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders commonly occur at the same time as chronic pain from conditions like fibromyalgia, back problems, migraines and arthritis.

Research using functional imaging suggests that mental health disorders and chronic pain share biological mechanisms, which contributes to the interconnection.2 One example of the interconnection is that depression can make a person more sensitive to pain.

The study found that older people more frequently reported chronic painabout 60% of those age 65 and over reported they had chronic pain compared to 26% of those age 18 to 24. Among the population groups examined in the study, veterans and active duty military members and caregivers were more likely than others to have chronic pain.

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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy For Chronic Pain

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is often considered the gold standard for pain treatment because a significant body of research has demonstrated its effectiveness for a wide range of pain populations.6 CBT targets the unhelpful thoughts and behaviors that people have in response to their pain in order to improve their overall mental health and ideally, also lower their levels of pain sensation or at least interference.

CBT often begins with an exploration of how your thoughts, behaviors, and emotions are impacting you. In other words, along with your therapist, you become a sort of co-detective about your life and pain. By examining your thoughts about pain, you can identify any patterns that arent helpful for you in order to shift towards more helpful ways of thinking. This often includes identifying and modifying instances of pain catastrophizing.

Your CBT therapist will also help you figure out how to continue to do the things you enjoy, despite your pain. Because depression risk dramatically increases when you stop engaging in recreational, social, and work activities. You will also learn other behavioral tools for managing your pain, including activity pacing , and relaxation techniques. A typical course of CBT therapy for chronic pain is about 10-20 sessions, with follow-up as needed.

Causes Of Chronic Pain

We’ve all experienced some degree of short-term pain. Maybe youve sprained an ankle while jogging, cut a finger while cooking, or bruised an arm while moving furniture. While the pain that comes with common injuries subsides in a short period, acute or chronic pain can stick around for months or even years. This pain might be a continuous feeling that takes over your life, day and night, or it could be an issue that comes and goes, never seeming to fully resolve.

Understanding the cause of your chronic pain is the first step in managing it as well as the accompanying emotional distress. Here are a few common drivers of persistent pain and how they relate to mental health:

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How Does Chronic Pain Affect Mental Health

Weirton Medical

Remember a time when you broke a bone or found yourself in pain for several weeks after a surgery. Remember how it affected your life, your ability to concentrate, or to accomplish minimal activities. Imagine if that pain didnt go away in a few days or weeks. Imagine if it were chronic lasting for months or longer. How would you cope? Lets focus on the question: how does chronic pain affect mental health?

How Psychotherapy Fits Into Chronic Pain Management

Anxiety and Chronic Pain: How To Cope In The Midst of a " Panic Atta

There are many ways therapy can help you to cope with chronic pain. As we talked about, the ways you think about and manage your pain can impact whether or not you will also experience associated depression and anxiety. For instance, focusing on and magnifying the negative aspects of your pain typically makes you feel worse.

A therapist can help you learn to catch these thoughts patterns, so you can replace them with more balanced and helpful thoughts. Acknowledging the pain without judgment, reducing maladaptive ways of avoiding the pain , and learning to live a full life despite the pain.

Therapy can also teach you things about pain that will help you learn to manage it more effectively. For instance, you might learn about how pain information gets to your brain, so you can learn how to use things like distraction to reduce pain. You will also learn tools for coping with pain, such as relaxation techniques and activity pacing.

Many people with chronic already struggle with feeling like a burden to their friends and family, so therapy can provide you with a space where it is okay to talk about difficult emotions. A therapist can also help you learn how to get the most from your existing support system or may encourage you to begin to develop one.

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Pain And The Stress Response

Pain acts as a survival signal for the brain: it signals the brain to prepare for fight or flight. In response, the brain changes physically and chemically. This is coupled with changes in the body like increased heart rate, prioritization of blood flow to the muscles, and other stress responses. While the body usually resolves these changes and returns to normal after temporary pain, chronic pain presents a different issue.

Chronic, persistent pain prolongs these systemic and chemical brain changes, leading to real psychological changes. Over time, these can impact brain function, resulting in changes in behavior.

Moreover, this chronic stress is not limited to psychological effects. Chronic pain and the resulting prolonged stress response can lead to heart issues, gastrointestinal changes, and more.

Your Mind Can Be Trained To Control Chronic Pain But It Will Cost You

There was plenty to blame: the car wreck that broke his back. The job pouring concrete that shattered his spine a second time. The way he tore up his insides with cigarettes, booze, cocaine, and opioids.

It all amounted to this: Carl White was in pain. All the time. And nothing helped not the multiple surgeries, nor the self-medication, not the wife and daughter who supported him and relied on him.

Then White enrolled in a pain management clinic that taught him some of his physical torment was in his head and he could train his brain to control it. Its a philosophy that dates back decades, to the 1970s or even earlier. It fell out of vogue when new generations of potent pain pills came on the market they were cheaper, worked faster, felt more modern.

But the opioid epidemic has soured many patients and doctors on the quick fix. And interest is again surging in a treatment method called biopsychosocial pain management, which trains patients to manage chronic pain with tools ranging from physical therapy to biofeedback to meditation. It helped Carl White, a 43-year-old social worker from Leroy, Minn.

The catch? It can take weeks and cost tens of thousands of dollars and thus remains out of reach for most patients with chronic pain.

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Was Bitter With His Employers But The Psychologist Helped Him Realise That He Needed To Accept

Chronic pain often stopped people doing things that they used to do, which could make them feel frustrated. Bound up with this was a sense of guilt and anxiety because they could no longer work or care for the family. Many peoples’ lives had changed completely and some even said that they hated what they had become, although others emphasised that you can live a fulfilling life despite pain .Chronic pain can lead to isolation and loneliness, partly because it’s difficult to get out but also because people withdraw into themselves. A man said he felt vulnerable when he was out and about. Another described an experience that others had, of getting a painful muscle spasm in public and being taken for a drunk.

Replacing Negative Thoughts With Positive Ones

Coping with Chronic Pain | No Health Without Mental Health | KET

Negative thoughts are often unavoidable when you live with chronic pain. The key is to reduce negative thoughts as much as possible and the most important thing is what you do when you have those thoughts. When you think something negative, for example Im always going to be in pain, stop yourself and replace it with something positive, for example, I know that chronic pain can improve, this feeling will pass.

Its important to realise that negative thoughts dont have to influence your behaviour. You can continue to implement positive coping strategies despite any negative thoughts you may experience.

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