DID YOU KNOW THAT ONE IN FIVE AUSTRALIANS, INCLUDING ADOLESCENTS AND CHILDREN, LIVE WITH CHRONIC PAIN?
This number is HUGE and actually increases to one in three of the older (over 65) age group. Those who experience chronic pain will know how much of an impact it can have on a person’s whole and the lives of their family and friends. Chronic pain isn’t simply an issue with pain. Chronic pain can impact result in changes in someone’s;
- Social interaction
- Emotional reactions
- Physical capabilities
- Occupational capabilities
- Psychological status
The above can also all contribute to a declining sense of self and actual or feelings of loss of independence. Have a think about how you would respond if you were unable to complete simple everyday activities such as cooking, tying your hair, or if you were unable to go to work each day. Far from belief, this doesn’t feel like a holiday, and can result in the onset of symptoms of anxiety and depression.
How Psychology Can Help Manage Chronic Pain
If I earned a dollar for every time I heard “I have pain, it’s not all in my head so I don’t need to see a psychologist”, I would be a rich person! Contrary to popular opinion, psychological counselling plays an incredibly important part in managing chronic pain for the following reasons:
- Learn about chronic pain. Psychology helps people to understand the body’s reaction to chronic pain and how we can learn to change this. Our body is primed to react to “acute” pain, and if we respond in these same ways to chronic pain, it can create maladaptive habits and coping behaviours which can make our pain worse and further limit our function.
- Learning how to re-live taking into account their chronic pain. Often those who experience chronic pain have limitations, some people have a lot of them. They can’t sit or stand for long periods (sometimes the limit is 5 or 10 minutes), walk long distances, lift certain weights (for some people this can be as small as 2kgs) or tire very easily. If this is the case, it can be helpful to identify what they CAN do and to learn how to change the ways they complete everyday activities.
- Re-invent a sense of self. What we do becomes a part of who we are. We define ourselves by this. We might have roles we play such as “mother”, “father”, “boss”, “worker”, “breadwinner” etc. When physical limitations stop us from being able to do the activities we associate with these roles, it challenges who we are and the value we place on ourselves (as well as how we see others us). To prevent depression from taking hold, psychology plays an important part in looking at helping some look at what makes up these roles and how they can continue to feel like they are still living up to who they are.
- Pain management techniques. When we are stressed, our body tenses up, which can increase our pain. When we are feeling low and depressed, we also can experience our pain more. Stress management and relaxation also plays an important part in teaching someone to manage their pain and to cope when their pain increases.
For more information, Pain Australia have some excellent resources and information.
Contact The Psych Professionals for help
The Psych Professionals are pleased to advise that we have Psychologists with specific training and a passion for working to support our clients to manage their chronic pain, injury and/or illness. Our clinicians are are on-hand to across both our Loganholme and Capalaba locations to assess, diagnose and implement therapeutic pain management strategies with patients presenting with chronic pain.
Contact us now on 07 3801 1772 (Loganholme) or 07 3823 2230 (Capalaba), to find out how we can support you or your family.