Managing a life with Chronic Pain

Chronic pain affects millions of Australians, with around 20% of the population living with chronic pain according to Pain Australia. 

Chronic pain is defined as pain that persists for more than three months, even after the initial injury or illness has healed. This type of pain can be debilitating, affecting an individual’s daily activities, mood, and overall quality of life. 

When we experience pain, it is a signal from the body that something is wrong. In most cases, the pain resolves once the injury has healed. However, chronic pain continues even after the injury has healed, and can have a significant impact on an individual’s mental health. Chronic pain can lead to feelings of hopelessness, frustration, and anger. It can affect sleep patterns, leading to fatigue, and impair a person’s ability to concentrate on everyday tasks. To make matters worse, it can also result in social isolation, loss of productivity, and affect one’s relationships with family and friends.

According to Pain Australia, individuals with chronic pain are three times more likely to develop depression and anxiety than those without chronic pain. A study conducted by the Australian Psychological Society found that 68% of individuals with chronic pain reported experiencing symptoms of depression, and 55% experienced symptoms of anxiety.

How can we manage mentally if living with Chronic Pain?

Living day to day with chronic pain can take a huge mental and physical toll, it’s also important to understand that there are self-care methods that can alleviate the mental health concerns associated with chronic pain.

Some of self-care methods could include:

Mindfulness meditation: Mindfulness meditation involves focusing your attention on the present moment without judgment. It has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety and improve overall well-being.

Social support: Talking to family, friends, or joining a support group can help to alleviate feelings of isolation and improve mental health.

Relaxation techniques: Deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualisation can help to reduce stress and anxiety.

Healthy lifestyle: A healthy diet, adequate sleep, and avoiding alcohol and drugs can help to manage chronic pain and improve mental health.

How can therapy support those living with Chronic Pain?

Research has shown that therapy can be an effective form of support for those with chronic pain. According to a study conducted by the Australian Psychological Society, cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) can significantly reduce chronic pain and improve psychological functioning in individuals with chronic pain. CBT is a type of therapy that focuses on changing negative patterns of thought and behaviour and replacing them with positive ones.

Another study published in the Journal of Pain found that acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) can also be an effective form of treatment for individuals with chronic pain. ACT is a form of therapy that helps individuals accept their pain and teaches them how to manage it without letting it interfere with their daily life. The study found that individuals who participated in ACT experienced significant improvements in pain interference, pain severity, and emotional distress.

Therapy can also be beneficial for individuals who are struggling with depression and anxiety as a result of their chronic pain. A study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that psychotherapy can be effective in treating both depression and anxiety in individuals with chronic pain.

In addition to traditional therapy, mindfulness-based interventions have also been found to be effective in reducing chronic pain and improving mental health outcomes. A study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research found that mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) can significantly reduce pain intensity, pain interference, and psychological distress in individuals with chronic pain.

How can Haven Psychology support you?

At Haven Psychology we a passionate in supporting those living with chronic pain. Our team of psychologists is dedicated to providing evidence-based treatments to help individuals improve their mental health and quality of life. 

Our approach is centred around collaboration and partnership, working with you to develop a personalised treatment plan that meets your unique needs. Get in touch with our friendly and understanding team who will be more than happy to answer any further questions and help book in a consultation with our professionals.

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