I received a question about chronic pain and stress. Stress as well as depression & anxiety are very common consequences of chronic pain. They are partly caused by the psychological toll of dealing with severe pain on a daily basis, for example the impact it has on your career, personal life, family, relationships etc. but also, as is the case for many, having to fight for understanding and adequate treatment while getting rejected or not being taken seriously by healthcare professionals, time and time again.
The other part of it is the physical effects of stress on your body. The purpose of acute pain is to warn you that something might be wrong or dangerous. It prepares you for action (fight or flight) by releasing stress hormones and activating the sympathetic nervous system, among other things. The problem is that when the pain becomes chronic, your body has to deal with being in this stress mode pretty much constantly, leading to both physiological and psychological consequences.
It’s extremely important to take any signs of stress, depression and anxiety seriously. The earlier you start trying to work on them, the better the outcome. Ignoring them and pushing yourself too hard for too long can easily lead to a complete breakdown (including severe depression, suicidal thoughts, etc) that often takes years to recover from. Ideally, the focus should primarily be on treating the chronic pain and/or the underlying cause of it, but unfortunately, this isn’t always possible. If you experience symptoms of stress/depression/anxiety that are severe enough to affect your daily life, please make sure to seek professional help ASAP! Treatments include counseling, psychotherapy and/or medication. Remember that seeking help is a sign of strength ❤️ #chronicpain