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Pain is, unfortunately, an inevitable part of life. Harmful scenarios which may potentially expose us to pain crop up in even the most seemingly safest of places, such as work or even our own homes. While most pain is temporary and gets better with rest and the opportunity to heal, sometimes pain doesn't let go. Individuals who suffer from chronic pain can go months, or even years, in a constant form of pain which persists, even despite treatment.
Chronic pain is, without a doubt, one of the most psychologically harrowing struggles an individual can experience. With pain comes the expectation of eventual relief-- this is, in part, what makes even excruciating pain somewhat bearable. When that expectation is no longer there, or when pain persists for far longer than expected, it is easy for despair to set in.
Chronic pain, which is defined as pain that lasts for at least 12 weeks, can occur anywhere in the body, and can vary greatly in its intensity. The psychological toll imposed by chronic pain likewise cannot be understated. Some patients may guilt over their chronic pain, believing their pain isn't "bad enough" to warrant such distress. These beliefs, while unfortunately common, are untrue-- even milder forms of chronic pain can create significant emotional and psychological distress. In addition to debilitating physical symptoms, chronic pain can contribute to the onset of mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD, among others. The use of opioid painkillers in the treatment of chronic pain, while appropriate in some cases with the close supervision of a medical professional, greatly increases the potential of addiction in those who struggle with chronic pain. Additionally, many people who suffer from chronic pain turn to drugs such as alcohol as a form of self-medication, which further complicates their treatment course and raises their risk of developing mental health issues such as depression.
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Chronic pain comes in many different forms. Often, it can be difficult for patients to recognize they are suffering from chronic pain. You may be suffering from chronic pain if you've displayed any of the following symptoms for a minimum of 3 to 6 months, with little to no relief:
The causes of chronic pain are varied. Chronic pain can occur as a result of physical trauma, such as in car accidents or job-related injuries, or it can be secondary to another disease. Conditions such as cancer and fibromyalgia are often accompanied by chronic pain, and autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis are likewise implicated in the onset of chronic pain. If you are suffering from chronic pain, it is vital to see your doctor to determine the root cause of your pain. While chronic pain is easily identifiable in certain cases, such as back pain after a car accident, other causes are more elusive. Accurate diagnosis is a crucial part of receiving the proper form of treatment.
Any form of pain which resists treatment has the potential to cause significant psychological harm to the individual experiencing the pain. Often, those who struggle with chronic pain are dismissed by loved ones and healthcare providers who underestimate the true extent of the pain. Such dismissive attitudes only serve to further the emotional distress experienced by those with chronic pain, and can prevent these individuals from receiving proper treatment.
If you struggle with chronic pain, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and hopeless. The unrelenting nature of chronic pain, in addition to constant misunderstanding by medical professionals, makes chronic pain a mentally devastating condition to deal with. Fortunately, however, there is help: talk therapy treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy have been shown to help many chronic pain patients. Additionally, medications such as antidepressants may help you deal with conditions such as depression which may develop as a result of your chronic pain
Whichever treatment path is right for you, it is important to know that you are not alone in your struggle. The prevalence of chronic pain is estimated to be at an astounding 35% in the United States alone. Despite this, the severity of chronic pain is often greatly underestimated by those who don't struggle with it. For those with chronic pain, this misunderstanding is one of the most exhausting elements of their condition. At Overcomers Counseling, we're committed to providing you with the compassionate support you need on your journey to recovery and management of your chronic pain. If you're ready to start your journey to a fuller life, send us an e-mail or message. Call 719-345-2424.
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Overcomers' is a mental health care practice serving Colorado with multiple locations in Colorado Springs and Denver! We have a passion for people and being a part of their experience as they overcome challenges. What will you overcome? Book a therapy session with one of our counselors here.