Mental Health and Chronic Pain

Chronic pain and mental health are intertwined wellness paths. Although the two are often connected, for example, those with chronic pain are prone to depression and those with depression may manifest physical, chronic pain. Many treatment options do not address both physical and mental pain concurrently.

What is Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain is pain that lasts for over 12 weeks. Chronic pain reaches beyond physical injuries and includes such ailments as heart disease, arthritis, migraines, and diabetes. Many individuals suffering from chronic pain are not aware of its links to mental health or feel it is too complicated to treat both their psychological and physical wellbeing. Instead, they frequently avoid discussing mental problems with their doctors.

What is Mental Health?

Mental health includes an individual’s state of psychological and emotional health and wellness. Mental health issues range from bipolar disorder to depression or anxiety. An estimated 15 million Americans suffer from depression. Depression can be directly associated with chronic pain, as those with pain are three times more likely to develop depression.

Links Between Mental Health and Chronic Pain

Chronic pain can make individuals feel alone (or feel the need to isolate themselves), helpless, hopeless and uncertain about the future which can ultimately lead to depression. An estimated 35-50 percent of people facing chronic pain also struggle with depression and anxiety. This link stems from similar biological pathways for those in pain and those with depression. When an individual struggles with chronic pain, they can suffer from insomnia and guilt, which can begin a cycle of depression. Once the cycle begins, it is difficult to break.

There are other shared symptoms of chronic pain, anxiety, and depression that make it difficult to differentiate what is mental vs. physical. Shared symptoms include:

  • Weight and appetite changes
  • Changes in energy and libido
  • Insomnia
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Muscle tension
  • Body soreness
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue

Symptoms can be sudden or come-and-go. Once the cycle of mental and physical wellness strains begins, it is difficult to reverse.

Tips for Coping with Mental & Physical Pain

  • Research and become educated about your condition to avoid the fear of the unknown
  • Meditate
  • Exercise
  • Make time for yourself
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help and develop a support system
  • Practice mindfulness

To fully heal, individuals must integrate their care options. At New Health Services we emphasize our comprehensive care model and believe in treating the whole person. If you or someone you know struggles with mental or physical health, schedule an appointment with us today

Lift the Label & Addiction Support

The United States is in an opioid epidemic. More than two million Americans have become dependent on or abused prescription pain pills. Many switch to heroin as it is less expensive than prescription drugs.

Quick Facts About the US Opioid Crisis:

  • 1 million Americans with opioid addiction
  • From 1999 to 2016, more than 350,000 people died from an opioid overdose, including prescription and illicit opioids
  • 40% of all U.S. opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid
  • During 2017, there were more than 72,000 overdose deaths in the US, including 49,068 that involved an opioid
  • Opioid prescriptions dispensed by doctors steadily increased from 112 million in 1992 to a peak of 282 million in 2012

The Colorado Opioid stats are not any better.

  • 558 opioid overdose deaths in 2017, 55% of all drug poisoning deaths
  • Heroin treatment admissions at state-licensed facilities have increased by 132% since 2013

Although many feel insulated from opioid addiction this crisis does not discriminate by gender, age, race or social class. It can impact anyone.  However, there is help and hope.

New regulations are being implemented to limit pain pills and expand treatment options, including the distribution of $485 million in grant money across the nation. State Legislatures are also introducing measures to regulate pain clinics and limit the number of opioids doctors can dispense.

These new regulations are being matched by many public awareness campaigns that focus on the seriousness of addiction and the opioid crisis. These awareness campaigns are vital to breaking stigmas, developing support systems and ultimately solving the issue. Such campaigns are vital to helping those impacted by opioid addiction.

One Colorado-based campaign, Lift The Label, is making strides that focus on supporting those with opioid addictions and helping individuals seek effective treatment. Lift the Lable was developed by the Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Behavioral Health and funded through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The campaign addresses challenges in overcoming addiction and effective ways to manage pain. Lift The Label provides information on treatment plans ranging from medication-assisted treatments that help an addicted brain recover to opioid detoxifications. Lift The Label offers more than just treatment plans.

A key to recovery is continuous education for addicts to overcome the barriers they face when seeking support. Lift The Label fosters support-groups by helping families and friends learn the facts about opioid addiction and recognize the signs and symptoms.

New Health Services participates in the Lift The Label campaign.  We continue to lead the way for better pain treatment, especially for patients who are currently underserved. Our focus is on providing a new approach to pain treatment by integrating traditional medical care with mental wellness—leading to better outcomes.

New Health Services’ very own Ozzie Cabral is involved in the Lift The Label campaign.