Chronic pain and chronic illness impacts millions of Americans, and has a direct impact on mental health. Data from the National Health Interview Survey (2012) reported that 25 million American Adults have experienced daily pain over the past 3 months. Estimates indicate that over 40% of US Adults have a chronic health condition. Examples of common chronic health problems include diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, asthma, and fibromyalgia. These health problems have an enormous impact on the US economy and healthcare delivery system. More significant to you and me: These health problems create tremendous suffering.
Medical Treatment and Research
Prevention and proper medical treatment are obvious goals in combating these problems, but we often forget the impact on our peace of mind, happiness and mental health. Many scholarly articles have examined the relationship between chronic pain and depression, such as correlation between neurological regions and functions in the brain between pain and depression. Individuals who have chronic pain and/or chronic illness are at risk for depression and other emotional problems. Unfortunately, individuals who are depressed also experience greater suffering and often sensitivity to chronic pain.
Making a Commitment
If you are experiencing chronic pain and/or chronic illness, it is vital that you receive proper medical care and make a commitment to be an active participate in your treatment. This may involve a significant investment of your time and finances. Also involved is a commitment on your part to partner with your healthcare provider in making adjustments to your life.
Psychotherapy has been found by research to help individuals better cope with pain and chronic illness and prevent and treat related emotional problems, such as depression. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of mental health treatment that has been found to be particularly effective in helping people adjust to health problems, pain, and associated emotional problems. Some specific techniques of cognitive behavioral therapy include mindfulness, relaxation training, pleasant events scheduling, and changing negative thoughts. Some individuals are able to benefit from self-help resources, such as books and internet resources, but many people benefit most from psychotherapy from a qualified mental health professional.
At Piedmont Counseling Center, our staff have experience and training in serving people who have concerns related to chronic pain, chronic illness and depression. Our blog contains information that we hope will help educate you about mental health. Please contact us if we may be of service to you.