The Mental Effects of Chronic Pain and How a Psychologist Could Help
Chronic pain is a common problem in the United States, affecting around 50 million adults. Although various treatment options are available, many don’t provide the relief people need to live active and happy lives.
Pain is vital to a person’s health. The unpleasant sensations alert a person to an injury or medical condition. You listen to what your body tells you, see your doctor, and undergo the necessary treatment to heal. For many people, that’s enough.
However, pain isn’t just a physical problem. It can also include psychological, emotional, and biological factors. Chronic pain often causes anxiety, depression, anger, and a feeling of hopelessness. You must address these psychological and emotional factors to treat pain effectively.
How a Psychologist Can Treat Chronic Pain
Surgery, physical therapy, chiropractic care, and other treatments can cure or alleviate the physical symptoms of chronic pain. What about the psychological aspects? Coping with a diagnosis and the daily struggles that come with it can be an emotional roller coaster.
Your medical provider who treats the physical symptoms of your pain might refer you to a psychologist. A psychologist could help you deal with chronic pain and the feelings, thoughts, and behaviors that accompany it.
When you meet with a psychologist, you should discuss your emotional and mental health. They might ask about what you’re feeling during instances of physical pain and how it affects your daily routine. You should address your concerns about any stressors in your life and discuss whether your pain becomes more severe under specific circumstances.
After an initial evaluation, your psychologist could create a treatment plan to help you with mental illness and any emotional problems associated with your chronic pain. They might recommend alternative treatments such as acupuncture or massage therapy.
A psychologist could also teach you coping skills or breathing exercises to use when facing the stress and negative feelings that come with the pain you experience. Lifestyle changes are also helpful. A good night’s sleep can help you function better during job-related or recreational activities.
Medical Problems Caused by Stress
Discovering you have a medical condition that causes chronic pain can be stressful. Unfortunately, stress can significantly increase the risk of various health issues, including:
- Heart disease
- Anxiety and depression
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Accelerated aging
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Premature death
Stress can also lead to muscle spasms or tension, increasing the severity of your physical pain. You can practice meditation, breathing exercises, and other relaxation techniques to keep your stress levels under control.
Psychologists can’t eliminate the stressors you encounter each day but could teach you how to manage them. They can work with your pain management doctor to prevent your mind and emotions from triggering physical symptoms.
If you suffer from chronic pain, you need to speak with an experienced pain management doctor immediately. Jersey Premier Pain can evaluate your condition and determine the appropriate treatment plan to alleviate your symptoms. We will work with you closely to provide the necessary care, so you can move forward and live a happier and healthier life.