Chronic pain can affect your mental well-being

As a psychotherapist, I have often had to work with pain. As we all know, pain can be generated by a physical or psychological state, and neither should be minimised or underestimated! 

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However, what really caught my attention is the relationship between physical pain and the development of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and self-esteem related issues. 

Long-term pain can negatively affect a person’s well-being and is called chronic pain. A prolonged physical state condition can impact our mental health. Pain can lead to limitation of movement, mental distress, inability to function; it’s easy to appreciate how these restrictions may reduce a person’s ability to complete daily activities and keep people from participating in social events.  

Relentless pain can lead to chronic stress increasing the levels of stress hormones and neurochemicals found within your brain and nervous system. These changes in your hormones can alter your mood, the way you think and therefore the way you behave. Prologued suffering can impact in many ways in the person’s ability to function, developing other problems - such as sleep disturbances, chronic fatigue, trouble focusing, appetite, irritability and so on.

Also, some of these pain-related issues can cause chronic disability which can negatively affect one's life by decreasing a person's self-esteem due to overwhelming feelings of inadequacy. These negative feelings related to your self-image can affect the way you form your personal relationships and the way you perceive yourself and others. A negative perception of yourself can promote isolation and loneliness.

Based on my observation of my clients that were experiencing chronic pain I noticed that once they were able to verbalise their pain it often led to them adopting new helpful coping techniques and responses that improved their quality of life. 

Over the course of the therapeutic intervention, I could monitor the improvement of the clients' responses to pain and self-esteem whilst receiving psychological support. 

I begin by recognizing throughout these years by working side to side with people, that our minds and bodies are one unit, and pain will register as pain regardless of whether it is physical or emotional. Supporting a positive mindset and lowering stress levels can help you to reduce, not necessarily the level of pain but the perception of it.  

If you are going through chronic pain and what you are reading here is resembling with your current situation and therefore have resulted in experiencing feelings of depression, anxiety, isolation, or self-esteem related issues, please do not hesitate to get in touch! To isolate yourself could just increase rumination which could damage your self-esteem and the way you perceive yourself. Mind and body are connected; counselling can help you to comprehend and prioritise your needs.

You don’t have to do this alone! Together, we can explore and find different ways to cope better with pain and therefore, to improve the quality of your life by feeling supported every step of your journey.  

MBACP Melania Leanza  

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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London, SW9
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Written by Melania Leanza, MBACP Qualified Counsellor - Counselling SW9
London, SW9

Welcome to you. Seeking support is not only an act of bravery but also represents the first step in regaining power over your life. Talking about what is troubling you in a safe and non-judgmental space, could help you to explore and develop awareness which can enable you to move forwards in your li...

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