Living with Chronic Pain
By: Lindsey Berisha, Ph.D.
All of us have had the experience of acute pain, whether it be a pulled muscle, a broken bone, a toothache, or another source of physical pain. Pain is not only unpleasant and uncomfortable, but it can disrupt our routine, interfere with our ability to focus, and make it hard to do things we enjoy. Acute pain tends to improve after treatment or a period of
healing, after which life generally goes back to normal. However, chronic pain, usually defined as pain that lasts more than 6 months and sticks around even after the initial injury or illness has resolved, can have a lasting impact on day-to-day life. Chronic pain can make it hard to be active, whether that means affecting your exercise routine, running errands, or helping out around the house. It can affect social relationships and engagement in hobbies or other enjoyable activities. It can interfere with your ability to concentrate and make it hard to focus on anything but the pain and how life has changed because of it. Because of all of these negative effects on your life, chronic pain can also be associated with feelings of stress, depression, and anger.
Why see a psychologist for chronic pain? Sometimes clients will say to us, “I don’t need to see a psychologist. My pain isn’t in my head – it’s real!” We agree; there is no question that your pain is real. Our goal is to help reduce the negative impact that pain is having on your quality of life and to help you feel more fulfilled and content while living with chronic pain. Here are some areas we often cover when working with clients with chronic pain:
1. Relaxation/stress management strategies – Chronic pain can be a major stressor and stress can often exacerbate pain. We want to help you learn strategies for effectively managing stress in order to minimize its impact on your pain and quality of life.
2. Thinking tools – It can be hard to not get stuck ruminating about how life has changed since having pain or wishing that it would go away. However, when we get stuck focusing on pain we can miss out on other things in life that give us happiness and satisfaction.
3. Managing difficult emotions – People often feel depressed or angry about how pain has impacted their lives. By helping people to overcome depression or manage anger, pain can feel less overwhelming.
4. Reengaging in life in a meaningful way – We want to help you identify your core values and help you focus on things that matter to you in life. While life might look somewhat different now than it did before having pain, it can still have lots of joy and meaning!
Are you struggling to adapt to living with chronic pain? We would love to meet with you to talk about how we can help. Contact our office (email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 571-328-7408 ext 0) to get more information and schedule an appointment to talk about treatment options.