The Mental Toll of Chronic Pain

In Canada, nearly 1.5 million people are affected by chronic pain every year. I’ve seen this debilitating issue take a toll not just on clients’ physical wellbeing, but also on their mental wellbeing. Despite greater awareness being brought towards chronic pain sufferers, many people aren’t aware of the additional emotional and psychological repercussions.

Here are some of the lasting psychological effects that I’ve identified in clients’ suffering from chronic pain, and how you can support those in need.

It’s not just in the body

Many researchers claim that there’s a strong link between chronic pain and emotional stress. In addition to this, I’ve noticed that physical pain can increase a person’s chances of developing depression, anxiety, and fear. This often results in a vicious cycle, as the link between emotion and physical wellness can worsen the symptoms associated with chronic pain.

Pain is most often experienced on an emotional level. Chronic pain specifically can intensify the feelings of frustration, shame, and helplessness that many sufferers experience. The sensation of being consistently in pain, as I’ve seen it, is as debilitating mentally as it is physically. 

In turn, a person’ self-esteem can be severely affected, as many people with chronic pain are unable to do things that they may have been able to do previously. This is an additional detriment to a person’s sense of wellness, particularly if these things include activities that the person once enjoyed.

Increasing awareness

Although I feel as though we have come a long way in terms of spreading awareness of the crippling effects of chronic pain, there’s still work to be done. In fact, there have been some healthcare providers and physicians who have doubted the existence of some illnesses associated with chronic pain, such as fibromyalgia. Not only is this opinion out-dated, it’s also potentially harmful to the mental and emotional wellbeing of sufferers.

It’s now increasingly important to speak up about chronic pain and educate the general public about its debilitating effects. I’ve always felt that the more information you can provide as an organization, the more value you place on the lives of those who need care and compassion to overcome chronic pain. 

Keep the conversation going

Do you have any friends or loved ones suffering from chronic pain? Talk to them. If they choose to offer information, listen carefully, and offer your assistance in whatever capacity you can manage. Although you may not be able to cure their illness, you can certainly offer a sympathetic ear whenever they need it.

I find that offering a compassionate ear can be one of the most important things you can do in order to aid in another person’s recovery process.

If you, or someone you know, are dealing with the effects of chronic pain, help is always available. Contact your Employee Assistance Program today to begin your journey to recovery.