Health & Medical

The Connection Between Chronic Pain And Mental Health

Written by Nancy

The kind of pain that persists beyond the average healing time is termed as chronic pain. While the healing time for any pain may vary from person to person, the pain needs to persist for at least 3 months for it to be categorized as chronic.

It is frequently caused by some kind of an injury to tissues or muscles, but are also certain cases in which the pain cannot be traced back to any particular incident or past disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic pain is now emerging as a serious concern in terms of health as more than 20.4% of adults in the United States suffer from some form of chronic pain.

Experiencing such degree of pain and discomfort comes with its own set of challenges, among which, the deterioration of mental health and onset of psychiatric disorders is perhaps the most difficult to deal with.

Depression, anxiety and chronic pain:

Studies suggest that there exists a strong relation between chronic pain and depressive disorders. The nature of relationship between the two is still unclear, as depressive thoughts are likely to cause physical discomfort while going through something as intense as chronic pain can also push someone into a depressive state.

People with chronic pain are also at a high risk of suffering from anxiety disorders. Being in a state of constant pain demoralizes patients which gives rise to depressive thoughts and causes general anxiety.

Insomnia is also one the of the major health issues that often co-occurs with chronic pain and leads to a deteriorated mental state. The occurrence of insomnia with chronic pain creates a vicious cycle for the patient in which pain leads to disturbed sleep patterns and a disturbed sleep pattern worsens the pain.

Sleeplessness makes the patient dwell on their pain even more, leading the patient into a downward spiral.

A person suffering from chronic pain is under a tremendous amount of stress as they are unable to perform everyday tasks. Being in an excruciating amount of pain constantly distracts them from their regular activities, limits mobility, and has long term effects on their mental health. However, there is no reason to lose hope as ongoing research indicates that certain cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT)  and psychopharmacological treatments can be used to substantially improve the quality of life of such patients.

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About the author



I’m Nancy and no, I didn’t always look like I do in that picture on the right. My foray into health and fitness began as a brace-faced, 16 year-old who was too afraid to wear a two-piece at the beach because I felt my body paled in comparison to my much more toned friends.

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