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Physical Pain’s Impact on Mental Health

September is Pain Awareness Month, and at Valley Oaks, we understand the connection between chronic pain and mental health. 

You may be familiar with the 0-10 pain scale a doctor shows patients when they’ve experienced an injury. This helps the doctor better understand how to appropriately treat the pain. However, pain can be elusive and long-lasting depending on the illness or injury causing it. Recovering from the pain can be a long process, too. 

Here are three facts about the connection between pain and mental health:

Chronic pain can exacerbate mental health problems

Experiencing pain has a direct effect on mental health and vice-versa. For those living with chronic pain, the likelihood of having anxiety or depression goes up four times against those living without chronic pain.

Mental health problems can exacerbate chronic pain

Those who are already diagnosed with anxiety or depression may experience pain more severely and for longer periods than those without a mental health condition. Making sure you have access to mental health care along with other medical care is crucial to managing both your mental health and your pain.

There are common types of chronic pain that most people experience

You may think chronic pain only comes from unique medical conditions, but there are many common illnesses and conditions to pay attention to. Some of these include arthritis, back and/or neck pain from sore muscles or poor posture, migraines, and menstruation-related pain. 

Some of these issues can be alleviated by lifestyle or behavioral changes, but they may still persist. Tackling pain is not something to do alone, and you should consult with an array of healthcare professionals to ensure you’re getting the care you need. 

Both chronic pain and mental health conditions are ‘invisible’ conditions

Much like mental health conditions, chronic pain is not always obvious to others. People with chronic pain, mental illness, or both may be saying they are fine and everything is normal, while behind closed doors they are suffering greatly. 

Never assume you know the conditions of someone’s life just by looking at them. It is always important to be part of the solution to destigmatize mental illness, chronic pain, and other “invisible” illnesses. 

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