>U Mom Knows Best: How Can You Associate Mental Health and Chronic Pain Management?

Thursday, February 1, 2024

How Can You Associate Mental Health and Chronic Pain Management?


The interwoven threads of chronic pain and mental health might often make you think: Is it pain that causes stress? Or is it stress that causes pain?

Stay with us to find out:

+ The relation between pain and emotional health.

+ How pain management can help overcome emotional disorders.

In this blog post, you will also find some tips to manage pain while staying mentally healthy.

The Relation Between Mental Health and Pain

 Do you think pain is bad? The answer is No. Although it makes us feel uneasy, what if I tell you that it actually serves a good motive?

+ It informs you about potential motives.

+ The feeling of pain indicates that you should stay away from the pain-causing agents. 

 The relationship between chronic pain and mental health is not yet well understood. Harvard Medical School explains that it is unclear whether:

+ Chronic pain causes mental illness.

+ Emotional problems lead to chronic pain.

 However, the risk of people experiencing chronic pain is three times higher to suffer from depression and vice versa. Chronic pain:

+ Disturbs the levels of hormones released by your brain.

+ Disrupts the level of neurochemicals released by the nervous system.

+ Keeps individuals from performing their daily activities efficiently.

 Ultimately, you experience behavioral issues like anxiety and depression. On the contrary, people suffering from mental disorders suffer more from chronic conditions like migraines or back pain.

Correlation Between Different Chronic Pain Conditions and Mental Health


OA makes the movement difficult by affecting:

+ Hip joints

+ Knees

+ Hands

+ Spine

Rates of mental disorders among people suffering from osteoarthritis are high. Osteoarthritis patients cannot enjoy their routine activities like normal individuals. They’re even unable to take part in social activities, which makes them feel isolated, increasing their chances of suffering from depression.

Multiple Sclerosis

People suffering from multiple sclerosis have a damaged CNS. Keeping balance or walking becomes difficult for persons suffering from MS. Such patients can suffer from mental disorders like:

+ Pseudobulbar affect is known as uncontrolled laughing or crying

+ Depression

+ Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

+ Panic Attacks

+ Anxiety

Back or Neck Pain

 Back or neck pain can result from:

+ Muscle strain

+ Lifting heavy objects

+ Stress and/or trauma

+ Issues with spinal cord

+ Neurological problems

However, sometimes neck/back pain is indicative of serious problems like:

+ Heart attack

+ Cancer, or

+ Meningitis

Depression hits individuals experiencing back or neck pain more than those who are not suffering from these aches. It also takes a little longer to be cured completely in patients suffering from back pain.


People suffering from FM experience:

+ Pain in muscles and bones

+ Tenderness in some parts of the body

+ Fatigue

The risk of anxiety disorders like OCD is five times higher in females suffering from fibromyalgia than others.

Chronic Migraines

Chronic migraines last:

+ At least 15 days a month

+ More than three months

The researchers have found depression to be closely associated with migraine headaches. The risk of depression is five times higher in individuals suffering from migraine for over two years. Likewise, individuals experiencing depression are three times more likely to experience migraine than others.

Medications for Pain Management and Mental health

According to Harvard Medical School:

“Most drugs that address psychiatric and emotional problems also work as analgesics or pain relievers.”


For instance, anticonvulsants, like benzodiazepines, assist in relieving:

+ Insomnia

+ Depression

+ Anxiety

+ Fatigue

+ Pain


Two major classes of antidepressants, tricyclics or SSRIs, help in controlling pain.

Tricyclics: Tricyclics inhibit the reuptake of two neurotransmitters:

+ Serotonin.

+ Norepinephrine.

Amitriptyline is one of the tricyclics that doctors often suggest as a pain reliever.

SSRIs: SSRIs, more specifically, inhibit serotonin reuptake. Although SSRIs like sertraline are not so effective in relieving pain, they present minimal side effects as compared to tricyclics. Therefore, some doctors recommend SSRIs for daytime and tricyclics for night for pain management. In other words, both classes of antidepressants regulate mood and help in managing pain.

Pain Management Tips for Mental Health Patients

Here are some strategies for managing pain suggested by the psychiatrists.

Stay in Limits

Knowing your limits can help you manage pain and the stress associated with it. Make a plan for managing pain, and never overburden yourself beyond the limits. 


Make low-impact exercise a part of your daily life to stay fit.

+ Yoga

+ Walking

+ Cycling

+ Swimming

+ Stretching

Be Social

Social activities like making friends, inviting them to your place for lunch, or watching a movie together. Being social keeps you happy and engaged.

Develop a Hobby

Have a hobby. Visit a park or a museum, paint, watch a movie, or read a book. Things that make us happy help us cope with pain.

Always be Hopeful

Never lose hope. Dealing emotional and physical pain rightly can help you get rid of anxiety and manage pain.

Follow your Prescription

Always listen to your doctor. Follow the medications prescribed by your doctor. Your psychologist can help you develop a routine to follow along with recommended medicine. You can adapt this routine to have a healthy and stress-free lifestyle.


 Chronic pain management and emotional health are somewhat interlinked. However, psychiatrists and researchers are unsure of whether the pain leads to mental disorders or vice versa. Various chronic conditions like osteoarthritis, multiple sclerosis, migraines, fibromyalgia, and back or neck pain can lead to disorders like anxiety, depression, and OCD. Antidepressants or anticonvulsants can cure psychiatric illness as well as pain. Lastly, by following some simple strategies, we can learn to manage pain and stay mentally healthy.

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