Your back hurts, your legs are stiff, and moving too quickly is a recipe for disaster. Chronic pain strikes once again, leaving you to deal with the achy consequences. But chronic pain doesn’t only impact your physical health. The physical things that happen to our bodies can have a direct impact on our thoughts and mood. This is how chronic pain affects your mental health.
Anyone who has ever been sore from an injury or going a little too hard at the gym will agree that it takes a little more work to be in a good mood when you’re in pain. Imagine feeling that pain all the time. It’s no surprise that a person with chronic pain is often more susceptible to changes in mood, such as anxiety, depression, and frustration. Chronic pain also impacts a person’s self-esteem and capacity for patience, which can impact other areas of life, especially personal relationships.
One of the best ways to fall asleep is to get comfortable, but this can be next to impossible with chronic pain. Not getting enough sleep can have several effects on your mental health. Along with making a person more irritable, sleeplessness can lead to a more negative outlook on life. Sleeplessness can also exacerbate preexisting anxiety and mood disorders.
The combination of pain, despair, and insomnia is a perfect storm for potential substance abuse issues. In fact, according to a study done in the last two years, those who struggle with chronic pain are at a greater risk for developing a substance abuse problem. Opioids are the most common substance for abuse, perhaps because they are frequently used to treat chronic pain. In addition to further exacerbating mental health issues, opioid dependence can lead to worse pain and eventual overdose.
When people go through times like these, it can be easy to swallow the pain and put on a brave face. But when chronic pain affects your mental health, it affects every part of your life. It’s incredibly important to find ways to relieve sore muscles, but more than that, it’s important to find places where we can talk about our pain and find compassion.