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How Psychotherapy Can Ease the Experience of Chronic Pain

Over 100 million adults in North America deal with chronic pain, and it is a condition that is often misunderstood. Many people associate pain with purely physical sensations, but chronic pain involves biological, psychological, social, and even economic factors.

Those suffering from chronic pain often experience frustration, anger, anxiety, and sadness, among a host of other emotions. About 25% of people who experience chronic pain will go on to develop a condition called Chronic Pain Syndrome. That is when a person has symptoms beyond pain, such as depression and anxiety or even suicidality. One study showed that 1 in 10 people who committed suicide had some kind of chronic pain. Treating chronic pain effectively means addressing not only physical needs, but psychological and emotional ones as well.

Seeing a psychotherapist to help you deal with emotional and psychological factors can do a great deal in helping you cope with your experience of chronic pain and pain management. Not only can psychotherapy help you understand your thoughts and emotions related to your pain, it can also reduce the intensity of your pain.

What is Chronic Pain?

Pain is a natural and important biological function that helps our bodies locate sources of damage and prevent further harm. This helps maintain balance in our bodily systems, allowing it to function at its highest capacity.

When this signaling becomes constant and inappropriate, it is referred to as chronic pain. Chronic pain goes beyond signaling damage to the body, instead it becomes a detriment to daily physical and psychological functioning. In addition to physical factors, it affects our mood, thought patterns, and quality of life.

While pain is a result of physiological changes, suffering is a result of how we think. Moreover, research has shown that the perception of pain is actually located in the brain, not the parts of the body that may be injured or inflamed. This means that when we change how we perceive pain, we are actually changing the level of pain. This is where psychotherapy can help.

Treatment of Chronic Pain

Many people initially see a physician to help them deal with the physical factors associated with their chronic pain. Physicians often help patients cope with painby prescribing medications like painkillers. However we all know that opioid pain medications, while sometimes necessary, can become a big problem when misused. At other times pain treatment may require complicated procedures like injections into the spine or placement of devices in the body that change signals from nerves.

Chronic Pain and Psychotherapy

Chronic pain or being diagnosed with a chronic illness can impact the way in which you live your day-to-day life. It may require you to create new habits, prevent you from doing activities you previously loved, or cause you to experience guilt as a result of needing additional support from people around you. Psychotherapeutic approaches to dealing with chronic pain target the improvement of functioning in physical, emotional, and social domains. There are a few different approaches within psychotherapy, all dealing with helping patients reduce catastrophization of their pain, their fear of pain, and increasing acceptance of their pain.

Therapy can help you navigate the changes you experience as a result of pain or illness. We can help you navigate challenges so you can start feeling better and enjoying life again. Psychotherapy can help break negative thought patterns. It can help you understand feelings of shame or embarrassment that may arise due to feeling different. You may need to talk about how chronic pain has affected your relationships and whether it has created feelings of dependency.

7 Tips for Coping with Chronic Pain

  • Stay active and exercise. It’s important not to let pain take over your life. Keep doing the things you enjoy that help you stay fit and active.
  • Listen to your body. Acknowledge your physical limitations and don’t push yourself beyond what your body can handle.
  • Be Social. Make plans with friends, loved ones, and community members. Social support allows us to be resilient and experience less depression and anxiety.
  • Engage in hobbies. When pain flares up, distract yourself by engaging in your favourite hobbies. This could be watching a movie, taking a walk, or reading a book.
  • Focus on what gives meaning to your life.
  • Allow the experience of pain to help you connect with others, not separate you from others.
  • Stay hopeful. With the right kind of treatments, managing and coping with pain is possible and can allow you to live a fuller, more vibrant life.
Your pain doesn’t have to be a wall, it can be a door to a more meaningful life. If you’re ready to LIVE YOUR POSSIBILITIES again– we’re here to help. If you are looking for help getting unstuck from your past experiences, situations and relationships, we can help you take the first step. You can book an appointment, schedule a free consultation, browse our therapist profiles, or get in touch with us.
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