AnxietyGuide to Managing Mood Disorders With Chronic Pain

Guide to Managing Mood Disorders With Chronic Pain

Living with chronic pain certainly has its challenges and can mean you miss out on some activities you enjoy. If the pain is severe and/or long term, you may need to alter your work schedule, social life and responsibilities. Chronic pain can prompt your body to have a stressful response both physically and mentally, so it’s no wonder that it often goes hand in hand with mood disorders. Managing mood disorders with chronic pain is a challenge that both patients and doctors need to be able to meet.

The Impact of Chronic Pain

Pain, especially chronic pain, has a wide-reaching effect on your life. Living with chronic pain can diminish your quality of life. It can cause emotional distress, interfere with your ability to function and may even restrict your ability to perform basic tasks such as cleaning the house or going for a walk. In some cases, chronic pain may inhibit your ability to leave the house. That can restrict your social opportunities and leave you feeling cut off from friends.

Chronic pain can significantly decrease the quality of life for younger people, too. A study of 128 adolescents who lived with chronic pain revealed that as the intensity and frequency of pain increased, the participants’ quality of life decreased. The patients’ mothers were also surveyed and revealed that the pain the patients were suffering reduced the families’ overall quality of life, too.

How Chronic Pain and Mood Disorders are Linked

How chronic pain and mood disorders are linked

It’s easy to see why people who live with chronic pain are at an increased risk of developing mood disorders than those who do not live with chronic pain. Chronic pain can cause a lack of sleep, which leads to increased stress. That increased stress can result in strained relationships both in personal relationships and at work. This snowball effect can easily lead to more prominent and frequent symptoms of depression and anxiety

It’s important to consider the effect that pain management has on mood disorders. The better that the pain is controlled, the less it diminishes quality of life. In theory, people living with chronic pain would be able to do more if their pain is well-controlled, reducing the severity and/or occurrence of mood disorders that pain so often causes.

Examining Management Strategies 

In addition to managing chronic pain, your treatment plan should be comprehensive enough to also address mood disorders. Getting your pain under control can help to reduce depression and anxiety, but it’s important to treat the mood disorders as well. 

To treat chronic pain, your doctor or pain specialist may recommend a number of analgesic drugs, such as opioidsThe appropriate medications will depend on:

  • the origin of your pain
  • your medical history 
  • any allergies that you may have

Medication can also be useful for treating anxiety and depression. Antidepressant medications can:

Their effect on sleep is particularly important if your pain prevents you from getting enough quality sleep. Finding the right antidepressant and the right dosage can take some time, so your doctor will ask you to report back with observances about your mood and any side effects.

Your doctor may also suggest lifestyle changes that can help to both manage your mood disorders and your chronic pain:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Managing Mood Disorders with Chronic Pain

Your doctor may also recommend that you seek cognitive behavioral therapy to help you better manage your mental health. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a popular and effective option that has long-lasting results. Typically, you will start to see benefits of this therapy in just 12 to 16 weeks.

What is CBT?

Trying this option gives you an active role in your treatment. With the guidance of a therapist, you will identify, understand and change your thinking about your chronic pain. This therapy can help you to develop a sense of control as well as helpful coping skills.

In order to help you better cope with chronic pain and get control over mood disorders, a cognitive therapist may help you to do a number of things, including:

  • Learn about chronic pain and your specific condition 
  • Practice meditation and relaxation techniques to relieve muscle tension 
  • Improve your sleep
  • Identify unhelpful thoughts and reframe your thinking to improve your mood
  • Identify activities you enjoy and find a way to incorporate them into your daily life

The bottom line on managing mood disorders with chronic pain

managing mood disorders with chronic pain

If you live with chronic pain and depression, anxiety or other mood disturbances, please seek help right away. Your health care team should be able to provide you with resources to help you get started.

Whether you opt to try medication, therapy, or a combination of them both, know that there is help available. You do not have to continue to suffer with anxiety or depression.

[su_box title=”Help For Depression and Anxiety” box_color=”#36bdb2″ id=”Expert-Tip-challenge”]If you or a loved one needs help with behavioral health or drug & alcohol addiction, please find a facility that can can help as soon as possible.[/su_box]

How do you manage your mood disorder and chronic pain?

Tell us about your experience in the comments. 

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