How Chronic Pain Impacts Mental Health

Approximately one in five people experience chronic pain in Australia. For some sufferers, living with pain can trigger a myriad of mental health issues and these can worsen pain levels and reduce general coping skills. Common issues that often co-occur alongside chronic pain include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Substance abuse
  • Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
  • Social withdrawal
  • Grief and loss of former functioning and abilities.

How psychological treatment can help you manage chronic pain

Evidence-based psychological treatment approaches that can help you live with chronic pain and improve mood and quality of life include:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. These two approaches can help you re-evaluate and challenge unhelpful thoughts and lifestyle habits in response to chronic pain. Therapy can also help you accept chronic pain and live a fulfilling life in line with values despite your chronic pain.
  • Relaxation techniques can reduce physiological arousal and pain levels
  • Activity pacing strategies encourage you to slowly increase physical activity in incremental stages. This helps to minimise your pain-related fear response and reduce sensitivity to activity-related pain.
  • Mindfulness techniques help you observe pain without becoming distressed by its discomfort.

Several of our psychologists are trained and experienced in the psychological treatment of chronic pain. We are currently available for new patients.

By Joanna Godden, Clinical Psychologist at Seed Psychology