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Here's How a Psychiatrist Can Help with Chronic Pain

Here's How a Psychiatrist Can Help with Chronic Pain

People often say, “The pain is all in your head,” like it’s a bad thing. Well, in reality, all pain is in your head given that your head houses your central nervous system. Where pain can become even more head-based is when it’s chronic and turns the corner from a symptom into a primary diagnosis that drags your mental wellness into the mix.

More than 1 in 5 people in the United States have chronic pain, and 8% of our population struggles with high-impact chronic pain, limiting their ability to lead a normal life. Wherever you fall on the chronic pain scale, the issue is having no small impact on your life, and you want solutions.

At the Institute for Advanced Psychiatry, Dr. Diana Ghelber and the team specialize in helping patients find relief from chronic pain. In the following, we explore why chronic pain is as much a mental as a physical problem and how we go about removing pain from your life.

Chronic pain and your mental health

We first want to touch on why chronic pain can be so difficult to treat. Let's say that your pain first started with a physical issue like arthritis — an issue that's progressive and has no cure. Over time, the pain signaling is so active that new pathways form, as if your nervous system is resigned to the fact that the pain will be steady and constant.

When this occurs, your pain can transition from a symptom of an underlying health problem into its own primary diagnosis. This can even occur when the underlying issue clears up, yet your body continues to operate in a pain cycle.

Another issue is that chronic pain and your mental health are very closely linked. For example, when you have chronic pain, you’re more than three times more likely to have depression than those who don’t have chronic pain. 

Going in the other direction, your chronic pain may stem from your depression as it manifests itself physically with body aches or headaches.

Our point is to illustrate that chronic pain and mental health are tied together, and this makes getting a psychiatrist on your team a very good idea.

How we tackle chronic pain

There are several ways in which we help patients find relief from chronic pain, including:

Ketamine infusion therapy

As medical providers look for nonopioid-based treatments to combat chronic pain, more and more are turning to ketamine infusion therapy. Ketamine was originally introduced as a battlefield painkiller, so we know that it works well in this regard. 

With ketamine infusion therapy, however, our goal extends beyond on-the-spot pain management as it can also improve neurotransmission in your brain that veers away from familiar pain pathways. These infusions can also work toward resolving issues like depression and anxiety.

Cognitive behavioral therapy

We also find that combining your ketamine therapy with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can work very well in minimizing the control that chronic pain has over your life. With CBT, we work with you on reframing your thoughts and beliefs around the pain and replacing them with more productive and encouraging ones. 

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy

Another approach for chronic pain is through TMS therapy, a technique in which we deliver electrical stimulation into certain areas of your brain to encourage healthier neural pathways. This is a great option if you want to find a treatment that doesn’t rely on medications.

As you can see, mental health professionals such as ourselves can play a vital role in resolving your chronic pain, mentally and physically.

If you’d like to explore your options for breaking free from chronic pain, we invite you to contact us at our office in Fort Worth, Texas, to schedule an appointment.


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