The Connection Between Pain and Mental Health
When we think of pain, often we think it to be something physical- whether that be from injury, accident, sickness, disease, etc. This commonly held belief permeates throughout our society, culture, language, and thoughts. But pain is more than a physical feeling. Pain can be emotional, too.
Often this aspect of pain is overlooked. We don’t think of mental health in the same way as physical health; however, mental illness is a physical illness of the brain that effects not just how we feel, but also how we think, and how we may respond to others or life events, impacting our day-to-day life. Much of why we overlook this is due to the negative stigma that has been associated with mental health. This stigma varies with intensity depending on the cultural views held about mental health. Interestingly enough, many of the cultures that strongly deny mental health frequently experience it in the form of physical pain. Such pains are a way for your body to let you know ‘hey something is wrong.’
Physical and emotional pain often go hand in hand. Physical pain, especially chronic pain, can lead to emotional distress such as depression. In the reverse, depression or other mental health illnesses can cause physical pain in various areas of one’s body, which can present as headaches, migraines, muscle tension/soreness, stomach pain, indigestion, appetite changes, sleep disturbances, eye problems, and autoimmune disorders to name a few.
This kind of pain is commonly known as psychogenic pain. Though not an official diagnostic term, the name accurately captures what is going on. Psychogenic pain is pain resulting from psychological factors such as fear, trauma, beliefs, memories, or emotions that cause the pain and make it worse over a prolonged time. Often times, those experiencing such pain have underlying psychological issues that have yet to be addressed, which is why it is easy to overlook the true cause of such pain when seeking medical attention. This is why comprehensive care, incorporating the mind and body, is so vital to mental health and physical health care.
So how is this pain managed, or better yet, how can you get rid of such pain? The treatment is to address the underlying causes of the pain, the ongoing psychological turmoil through psychotherapy. It is important to talk through past experiences that are still troubling you. Some medications, such as antidepressants or non-narcotic pain killers, along with psychotherapy may also be beneficial to some in alleviating pain.
It is important that we take care of both our physical and mental well-being as they often impact one another in ways in which we may not readily understand.
To speak with a Behavioral Health Therapist at Avance Centers of Excellence in Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, call 984.263.0846.
To learn more about Avance Medical Pain Service and their treatment for chronic pain, visit here.
Smith, Y. (2018, August 23). What is psychogenic pain? News- Medical Life Sciences. From https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Psychogenic-Pain.aspx