Chronic pain, lasting six months or more, is a condition experienced by approximately 30% of the U.S. population. When pain is constantly present, it can become intolerable. This stress may lead to an increase in physical disability and emotional distress, such as, depression and anxiety. Did you know these psychological symptoms can significantly increase your perception and intensity of the pain? This increase in pain can then lead to more avoidance of activity, which in turn leads to more feelings of depression, which increases the perception of pain, etc. The good news is chronic pain therapy can help put an end to this cycle by teaching you techniques that help you cope with your pain and decrease your symptoms of depression and/or anxiety.
Some of the benefits of psychological treatment of pain include:
• Learning relaxation skills that decrease anxiety and reduce pain
• Decreasing your stress response
• Improving healthy sleep
• Building up your support networks
• Making behavioral changes to assist you in leading a life focused on you rather than your pain
• Identifying challenge and change negative thoughts and beliefs that foster depression
Incorporating psychological counseling into one’s medical treatment has even been shown to increase the effectiveness of medical treatment. The aim of psychological treatment is not complete freedom from pain, but with the support of counseling it is possible to develop an improved quality of life and increased ability to cope with the pain.