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Chronic pain and mental health

Chronic pain can disrupt your daily routine, preventing you from participating in activities or completing tasks that you want or need to do. This can be frustrating and difficult, taking a toll on your mental health. Someone struggling with chronic pain often deals with mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, phobias, and substance abuse problems. A person with chronic pain is at risk for other mental health conditions including cigarette use, addictions, and suicide. 

Across all chronic pain groups, co-occurring depression, dysthymia, and bipolar disorder appear most often. It is understandable, then, that anyone experiencing pain for an extended period will also feel an impact on mood, behaviors, self-esteem, and general quality of life.

Chronic pain and relationships

As chronic pain will impact a person’s daily life, it can also affect relationships. 

Significant Others

Chronic pain can have an effect on your marriage or partnership with your significant other. Because chronic pain often makes daily tasks difficult, your partner may have to take on more household or parenting responsibilities. Depending on the type of pain, physical intimacy may change. Some relationships feel the strain of financial stress with medical bills or loss of income. Your spouse may also experience changes in their own well-being or mental health. 

Children

When a parent experiences changes in personality or behavior caused by chronic pain, children may become confused, scared, or worried about the future. Their parent might not be as available to the child as they once were. A child might express more anger, fear, or resentment during what can be an uncertain, worrisome time for the family. 

Family and Friends

Someone living with chronic pain might withdraw from relationships outside their immediate family. Spending time outside the home—or hosting visitors at your home—may become too difficult in the face of pain and other symptoms. Reaching out to friends and family may seem like an impossible task. At the same time, family and friends may find it difficult to communicate with a loved one suffering from chronic pain or be unsure of ways to help. 

Chronic pain and substance abuse

A person experiencing chronic pain runs the risk of relying on alcohol, other substances, or medication designed to alleviate pain, which can lead to addictions. Opioids like Percocet, OxyContin, and Vicodin release dopamine in the brain, which creates a feeling of pleasure. In some cases, someone attempting to find relief may take more medication than prescribed, and develop a tolerance, needing more and more to find the same level of relief they did at first. Other factors may also factor into a person’s risk of addiction, including previous drug use, level of pain tolerance, and genetics. 

Other medications used for pain management don’t have the same addictive properties as opioids, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antidepressants, and muscle relaxants. 

Contact us to learn more about how The Calli Institute can help you overcome your chronic pain.


Resources and links

Please visit these resources to learn more about chronic pain. 

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