The Mental Toll of Living With Chronic Back Pain Explained

Many people who live with back pain develop psychological distress as a result of the suffering aspects of their condition. This exacerbates their physical pain and reduces their quality of life.

Often family members reinforce unhelpful coping strategies, thinking patterns and behaviours in the pain-affected person. This can lead to emotional distress for everyone involved.

Loneliness and Isolation

A chronic pain condition can lead to a number of emotional problems, including depression, anger and anxiety. This can impact your overall well-being and interfere with your relationships, particularly those with loved ones. If you feel that you’re struggling emotionally, seek a mental health professional who can help you work through your issues. Some people find relief by talking about their pain to others who understand, and there are a variety of support groups for those suffering from chronic back pain.

Loneliness can also occur when you’re not able to keep up with your normal social activities due to the pain. This can be especially hard if you have children or other family members who depend on you. In addition, your pain can cause you to miss out on work or other important events. It’s critical to stay connected to your friends and family as much as possible.

If you’re experiencing a loss of connection to your community, try finding new ways to get involved. This can include volunteering or joining a club. If your pain is preventing you from sleeping, explore stress-relieving strategies, like deep breathing or meditation.

It’s also a good idea to see a pain specialist who can develop an integrated treatment plan that includes a physical therapist, psychologist and other professionals with expertise in treating chronic pain. This will allow you to receive the care that is best suited for your specific needs.

Research shows that most chronic pain is psychosomatic, meaning that your mind and emotions play a significant role in how intense the pain is. Changing your attitude about the pain and learning to relax can significantly improve how you cope with it.

When you’re in pain, it can be easy to focus on the negatives and forget about the things that bring you joy. However, you should be sure to focus on the positives in your life and try to make an effort to celebrate every success, whether it’s as small as completing a task without discomfort or as big as walking around the block.

Guilt and Shame

Long Island Back and Spine notes that back pain is different from lung pain. So if your chronic back pain keeps you from being fully present with loved ones, or stops you from sleeping well, working, or enjoying hobbies, it’s not uncommon to feel guilt and shame. This can lead to psychological distress, and in turn, feed the physical pain you experience.

In a recent study, researchers found that those who felt their pain was invalidated by family members, friends, or medical professionals had greater symptoms of depression than those who were not. They also had higher levels of pain-related feelings of guilt and shame, which were associated with higher levels of pain-related magnification, rumination, and helplessness.

Interestingly, the same study also found that when people experienced feelings of shame, they were more likely to blame themselves for their pain, whereas those who felt guilty were more likely to ascribe it to external causes that were out of their control. The difference here is important, as guilt and shame have different focuses that influence their consequences.

For example, research suggests that whereas shame is concerned with the discrepancy between one’s actual self-evaluation and a desired, idealized self, guilt focuses on taking responsibility for one’s faults. This distinction has important implications for basic and clinical research, since both emotions may lead to similar behaviors. For instance, a feeling of guilt is likely to elicit reparative actions, while a feeling of shame may lead to withdrawal or self-punishment.

If you’re struggling with feelings of guilt and shame, it’s a good idea to talk to a mental health professional about them. They can teach you how to adopt a problem-solving approach, manage your emotions, and boost your self-esteem. To get started, visit WithTherapy, and we’ll match you with a mental health professional uniquely suited to you.

Compassion Fatigue

If you have a loved one suffering from chronic back pain, it’s important to watch out for the symptoms of compassion fatigue. These include a change in personality and behavior, a lack of interest in activities previously enjoyed, irritability and even depression. If you see these signs, it’s time to seek help for your loved one and yourself.

Similarly, if you are a healthcare professional who regularly deals with people in need, you should be careful not to fall prey to compassion fatigue. This can affect your ability to provide quality care, as you may become frustrated with patients or colleagues and find it difficult to concentrate on tasks. You might also begin to feel a lack of personal satisfaction, and you may experience difficulties in your relationships with family and friends.

Physicians are particularly prone to suffering from compassion fatigue, and it’s usually caused by a combination of factors. They may feel overburdened by the number of cases they take on and by the demands of their profession. In addition, they often neglect to perform important self-care activities, such as regular exercise, hobbies, socialization, meditation and relaxation. This can lead to a loss of energy and a sense of depersonalization, which can cause them to begin to blame their problems on the staff, system, insurance carriers or administration.

It’s important to recognize the symptoms of compassion fatigue, as it can be a dangerous and long-lasting condition if left untreated. It can lead to serious emotional issues such as clinical depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Fortunately, there are some things you can do to prevent compassion fatigue. This includes putting yourself first by prioritizing self-care, setting boundaries between home and work, taking time off from your job, and practicing mindfulness. You can also find strategies to cope with stress, including meditation, breathing exercises and yoga.

Lastly, it’s important to remember that back pain is a physical symptom that can be improved through proper treatment and coping. If you are in need of back pain management, contact a doctor for advice. They can recommend treatments that will help ease your pain and improve your mood.

Changes in Relationships

Often, people living with chronic pain will not only experience emotional turmoil, but also change in their relationships. Friends and family may not understand the pain, or they will feel uncomfortable with their loved one’s inability to participate in some activities. They may even believe that the person is exaggerating or fabricating their symptoms. This can cause them to withdraw from the relationship or stop spending time together altogether.

The pain-affected partner can start to feel like a third person in the relationship, which can lead to feelings of dissatisfaction and anger. They might also feel guilty that their moods and behaviour are affecting the quality of the relationship. They might also become tired of having to cancel plans and be reminded of the limitations that their pain imposes on them. It is important to try to ensure that both partners understand each other and have good communication in such situations, but this is not always easy. Some couples have found that relationship counselling helps them to deal with some of the issues that arise.

People with back pain may also be more irritable, less patient and more easily frustrated. This is partly due to the fact that they are worried about their ability to cope with daily tasks and not knowing if their pain will improve. It is also the result of the way that their pain intensifies when they are stressed or tense. This is because the nervous system responds to these events by releasing stress hormones and causing changes in blood flow, heart rate and blood pressure.

If the person is in a romantic relationship, they can help to reduce the impact of their pain on the relationship by talking openly about the situation. They can also try to be more flexible with their plans and be willing to cancel them if necessary. They should also make sure that their partner is aware of the ways that their moods and behaviour are influenced by their pain and how it affects their interactions with others.

In some cases, the partner who is not in pain might have to take on more of the household duties or caretaking responsibilities. This can cause them to feel resentful and unable to enjoy their own life. In addition, they might become angry when they think that their partner is blaming them for their pain or not believing them. It is therefore important for the non-painful partner to gently but firmly push their partner toward accepting their pain and getting help for it.