Psychological Aspects of Chronic Pain
Counselling in Perth
How can counselling help me with my chronic pain? Isn't it a physical problem?
Pain is often associated with a physical feeling experienced in the body.
Acute pain is usually lasts less than 3 to 6 months and is directly related to events such as:
- injuries (such as a sprained ankle, stubbed toe, or surgery )
- labour and child birth
- broken bones
With acute pain, once the underlying cause of the pain is addressed, the pain typically recedes. However, sometimes acute pain turns into chronic pain if it is unable to be remedied within 6 months.
Chronic pain is pain that continues in spite of the original injury or event being repaired or treated. Pain signals can remain in the nervous system telling the brain that there is still pain. Sometimes there is chronic pain in the absence of an original injury or event. Some examples of these may be:
- ongoing and persistent migraine
- back pain
- arthritis or degenerative diseases
As well as coping with chronic and persistent daily pain, day-to-day functionality is often impacted. Regular activities such as employment, exercise and social engagements may be reduced. You may also experience psychological issues such as:
- sleep problems
- alcohol and drug dependency (including dependency on prescribed pain killers)
- lower self worth/self-esteem
- less motivation
- relationship problems and conflict
- grief for the person you were before
- loss of life as you knew it: employment, career, finances, housing, interpersonal relationships, family and children, intimacy, and social isolation.
Seeing a psychologist or counsellor may help you through the initial grief and loss period while you adjust to your new situation. You may feel helpless, resentful, angry, guilty, depressed, or fearful of doing things that may make your pain worse. You may feel that there is nothing you can do to stop the pain and just need to put up with it. You may learn skills to help you accept rather than battle the pain.
Counselling may be able to help you to identify unhelpful thought patterns and behaviours that maintain these feelings, and help you to change the way you interact with and manage your pain so that you can move forward rather than feeling trapped.
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