Chronic pain is unfortunately something that many of us will experience throughout our lifetimes. The most common chronic pain to experience is that of back pain.

Back pain can be experienced anywhere from the upper spine at the neck level, all the way down to the pelvic area. Lower back pain is the most common form of back pain, and usually arises from our lifestyles, such as how we sit at work, or lifting something incorrectly.

Back pain often goes away on its own, but sometimes other treatments are needed, from physiotherapy to laser spine surgery. However, your pain is treated, it is well documented that chronic pain can have an adverse effect on your mental health.

Back Pain

Back pain affects many millions of people around the world. A recent study estimated that 1 in 10 people suffer with lower back pain. So, if you aren’t suffering yourself, there is bound to be someone in your friends or family who is.

Chronic back pain can affect your quality of life, by not allowing you to do the things you used to be able to, for example, certain exercises or even carry out your job. Depending on where you live in the world, healthcare can be very costly, and that can add to your worries.

Some back pain has a cause that is easy to pinpoint, however many cases of lower back pain have no known causes, and this can make it more difficult to treat.

Mental Health

Studies done on back pain and mental health have shown that you are almost twice as likely to suffer with mental health problems if you have chronic back pain, than those without.

There are many different types of mental illnesses, but the ones most commonly experience but those with chronic pain are anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation, psychosis and stress.

For many years there has been a stigma around mental health, making it almost taboo to talk about. However, in recent years, people are much more open about mental health, and much more research has gone into it in the medical world.

Doctors and medical professionals are much more adept at spotting the signs of declines in mental health, and signposting you in the right direction to get help.

There is never any shame in asking for help if you feel your mental health is suffering. Good mental and physical health are both needed in combination to help your overall wellbeing.

Depression

Depression affects people differently, and someone with depression could have completely different symptoms to someone else with depression.

Symptoms of depression can be feeling down, unhappy or hopeless, but unlike when they are having a bad day, these feelings go on for days or weeks at a time, with no let-up of them. Tiredness is very common, with people with depression often sleeping more, but their sleep is not of very good quality and they don’t feel rested. They may have a change in appetite, either eating much less, or overeating – ‘comfort eating’. Someone with depression may lose interest in hobbies, and they may suffer from low libido.

These symptoms can vary from being very mild, to extremely severe where they may feel suicidal.

Anxiety

Anxiety is a normal feeling to feel for most people. Things like starting a new job, or worrying about a family member are completely normal, but for someone with anxiety disorder, their worries spiral out of control, and they cannot control them.

This means they constantly are on edge, thinking about everything and how it could go wrong. Someone with anxiety will often ‘catastrophise’ which means they can only envisage the worst possible outcome for any situation. Someone with anxiety may also experience panic attacks.

Always talk to your doctor about any pain you are experiencing, so that they can help you to achieve a diagnosis and get you on the correct treatment plan.

If you feel that you are suffering with any mental health issues, then talk to your doctor. As we have discussed, there is no need to be embarrassed or feel ashamed about your mental health, it is very important to get it treated.

There are different medications that can be tried, and gone are the days of mental health medication being addictive, there are many new drugs available now that do not have addictive qualities. Your doctor may also refer to a psychologist or therapist to help you learn how to cope with your mental health, and you will be given different coping mechanisms to help you.

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