One in every five people experiences chronic pain. It is the type of pain that lasts for more than three months. If it goes unaddressed, chronic pain can affect a patient’s psychological health and lead to other problems. Chronic pain can weigh someone down, drain their energy, make them weak and unable to enjoy their quality of life.
If you suffer from chronic pain, it can be hard to accomplish even simple tasks that you used to do daily, and it can even change the nervous system’s wiring. That is why you must seek pain management treatment early before the problem gets worse. Here is how chronic pain can impact your mental health if not addressed.
It impacts your sleep cycle.
Chronic pain can increase your stress levels interfering with your ability to enjoy a sound sleep. Falling asleep gets difficult because some part of the brain focuses on the pain, impacting your sleep cycle. Approximately 50-80% of people with chronic pain report sleeping problems, especially non-restorative sleep, which causes one to wake up and still not feel refreshed.
It causes anxiety
Anxiety is also related to chronic pain, and it affects a significant number of people. The average human being responds to stress through escape, but that is not possible with chronic pain. Since chronic pain sometimes comes and goes, many patients will likely experience anxiety in fear that the pain will return. The anxiety can be detrimental to your quality of life.
Depression and chronic pain
There is also a relationship between chronic pain and depression. According to some research, chronic pain signals can be engraved into your brain, wiring it evolutionary. People suffering from chronic pain often isolate themselves, which can result in damaged relationships. At times you may need to spend time in a hospital managing the pain in a peaceful environment. The isolation creates a safe environment away from stressors and possible causes, but the threat is internal and not external. When you cannot cope with chronic pain, you may feel like you have lost your sense of control and feel hopeless, which can lead to depression.
More risk of dementia
According to research, older adults with chronic pain are at higher risk of developing cognitive problems, particularly dementia. Cognition is a function of the brain that involves how human beings acquire understanding through sensory input and experience. However, chronic pain can significantly impact cognitive function. Although temporary pain does not affect cognition, persistent pain that lasts for longer than six months can trigger brain changes, affecting your cognitive abilities.
Thankfully, there is a treatment if you suffer from psychological problems due to the effects of chronic pain. Since chronic pain affects different brain structures, various therapies can be used to address the problem. Most of them are evidence-based therapies such as sleep hygiene, mindfulness, yoga, among other behavioral therapies. By addressing the cause of the pain through a comprehensive treatment approach, you can be free from chronic pain and its impacts.