How Chronic Pain Affects Mental Health
Chronic pain can interfere with your daily life, along with keeping you from doing things you want and need to do. It can take a toll on your self-esteem and make you feel angry, depressed, anxious, and frustrated. The link between your emotions and pain can create a cycle. Often times the symptoms of chronic pain will feed off of each other making them worse. When you hurt, you’re more likely to feel depressed. These feelings can make your pain even worse. The link between depression and pain is why doctors often use antidepressants as one treatment for chronic pain. These drugs can help with both the pain and the emotional strain it causes. Pain also interferes with sleep and raises your stress levels. Both a lack of sleep and more stress can make pain feel stronger.
Depression magnifies pain and can make a person feel worse than they actually are. Although, it’s important to know that medications and psychotherapy can help relieve the depression and make chronic pain more tolerable.
What Is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain lasts much longer than would be expected from the original problem or injury. When pain becomes chronic, you may have:
- High levels of stress
- Low energy
- Muscle pain
- Lower-than-normal mental and physical performance.
Chronic pain gets worse as changes in your body make you more sensitive to pain. You may start to hurt in places that used to feel fine.
The pain can disrupt sleep and cause you to wake up at night. This can make you tired during and not as productive during the day. The ongoing pain can cause additional irritation and make it difficult for you to deal with others. These feelings can lead to irritability, depression, and even suicide.
Depression is one of the most common mental health problems facing people with chronic pain. It often makes someone’s other medicalconditions and treatment more complicated. Consider these statistics:
- According to the American Pain Foundation, about 32 million people in the U.S. report to have had pain lasting longer than a year.
- From one-quarter to more than half of the population that complains of pain to their doctors are depressed.
- On average, 65% of depressed people complain of pain.
- People whose pain limits their independence are more likely to get depressed.
Because depression in people with chronic pain frequently goes undiagnosed, it often goes untreated. Pain symptoms and complaints take center stage on most doctor visits. The result is depression — and sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, lack of energy, and decreased physical activity, which may make pain much worse.
Is There a Cycle?
Pain provokes an emotional response in everyone. If you have chronic pain, you may also have anxiety, irritability, and agitation. These are normal feelings when you’re hurting. Usually, as pain subsides, so does the stressful response.
But with chronic pain, you may feel constantly tense and stressed. Over time, the stress can result in different emotional problems associated with depression. Some of the problems individuals with both chronic pain and depression have include:
- Altered mood
- Chronic anxiety
- Confused thinking
- Decreased self-esteem
- Family stress
- Fear of injury
- Financial concerns
- Legal issues
- Physical deconditioning
- Reduced sexual interest and activity
- Sleep disturbances
- Social isolation
- Weight gain or loss
- Work problems
For more information please contact our Chandler pain management clinic today.