Chronic Pain and Mental Health

What’s the link between physical and mental health conditions? 

Mental Health America (MHA) conducted an analysis of 61,363 individuals who self-identified as living with arthritis or other chronic pain and completed a mental health screen from 2015-2019. The results revealed that 79% of people with arthritis or other chronic pain screened positive or moderate to severe for a mental health condition. Out of those suffering from both chronic pain conditions and mental health conditions, 40% had never been diagnosed. (Early, Equitable and Trauma Responsive Care for Chronic Pain and Mental Health, 2020) 

The results of this study reveal the necessity for more education on the relationship between chronic pain and mental health as well as equitable access to the care they need. We had the chance to speak with Dawn Hagerman BSN, RN of our Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic to learn more on the topic. 

young man with chronic pain

What is chronic pain?  

Chronic pain ipersistent pain that lasts at least six months and longer.  This type of pain results from an injury, disease, or certain medical condition that cannot be healed or cured.  It is a common health concern that causes negative consequences to individuals, families, and society.  Chronic pain can interfere with daily activities that cause limitations in self-care, work, relationships, recreation, and social life.  This pain is also associated with mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, and substance use.  

How does chronic pain affect mental health? 

Chronic pain can affect one’s thinking, mood, and behaviors.  This can cause frustration that leads to anxiety, depression, or substance use.  Anxiety can result from worrying on a daily basis about how severe pain may be, or what might trigger symptoms.  One may fear participating in activities due to movements that may aggravate pain, causing them to avoid activities that they once enjoy.    

Suffering from long-term chronic pain causes negative feelings that become overwhelming, and can trigger the onset of depression. One may experience symptoms of sleep disturbances, changes in appetite, anger, decreased self-esteem, isolation, and hopelessness.  Some people also develop substance abuse disorders.  Long-term use of pain medications can lead to addiction, and many people often use illegal substances to avoid pain or emotional concerns. 

What can Acenda do to help those suffering from chronic pain and mental health issues? 

Acenda Integrated Health offers many programs to help support those suffering from mental health challenges.  Often, people who live with chronic pain are so concerned with alleviating the physical pain, that they do not seek care for their emotional well-being.  Acenda offers compassionate teams who focus directly on individualizing a plan of care to meet the needs of each individual or family.  Positive support services are offered to improve one’s emotional well-being, while improving the function, stability, growth, and change to reach the highest potential of each individual. Crisis intervention services are available, along with individual or family evidence-based therapeutic services.  Acenda Integrated Health is only one phone call away to help support each individual and family to live and function at their maximal potential.

If you are suffering from any mental health conditions due to chronic pain or otherwise, our clinicians and care managers are available to assist you through our Community Behavioral Health Clinic located in Gloucester County. Call (856) 494-8484 to determine eligibility for CCBHC services.