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 didn’t go away in a few days or weeks. Imagine if it were chronic lasting for months or longer. How would you cope? Let’s focus on the question: how does chronic pain affect mental health?
Chronic Pain → Chronic Stress
Chronic pain can be defined as lasting longer than 3-6 months, pain that comes and goes, and pain that interferes with daily life. This pain could be back or neck pain caused by nerve damage or irritation.
Living with day-to-day constant pain is its own stressor. If you are already stressed from other triggers, the pain only makes it much worse, and consequently, the more stress you experience, the worse the pain. This vicious circle can lead to many other mental and emotional issues.
Chronic Pain → Addiction
Someone suffering with chronic pain will do almost anything to relieve it. Many people fall into addiction from pain killers and opioids. 29% of patients eventually misuse painkillers.
Chronic Pain → Anxiety
Chronic pain leads to worsening anxiety. Studies show that when you are fearful of pain, you are more likely to develop chronic pain. In addition, the more fearful you are, the less you move causing weakness and loss of flexibility. This in turn makes pain more severe and lasting.
Chronic Pain → Depression
Among all the mental and emotional effects of chronic pain, depression is the most common. The co-occurrence may be as high as 85%. Chronic pain affects your ability to function. Social activities and hobbies will suffer, leading to decreased self-esteem. It is common to have sleep issues, fatigue, trouble concentrating, mood changes, and a decreased appetite.
Dealing with these lifestyle changes results in depression.
Chronic Pain → Lack of Focus
When you have a cold, a sore throat, or a headache, you know how that affects your ability to concentrate and complete tasks at home or at work. Responsibilities suffer, so imagine what it would be like with chronic pain.
The Most Common Medical Conditions That Cause Chronic Pain
Multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, migraines, and pain from menstruation are some of the most common causes of chronic pain. If you, or someone you know, suffers from these conditions, get help for the pain, but also any of the mental issues that follow.
Contact one of our pain clinics for help with chronic pain and the associated mental health issues.