Mental Health and Chronic Pain: How Are They Linked?

Mental Health and Chronic Pain: How Are They Linked?

When you wake each day to ongoing pain and discomfort, the toll this exacts on your overall wellness is great, and this can very much include your mental health. 

Here at the Institute for Advanced Psychiatry, our team of mental health experts, led by Dr. Diana Ghelber, fully appreciates how chronic pain can cast a wide net over your physical, mental, social, and emotional health.

In this month’s blog post, we take a closer look at the relationship between chronic pain and certain mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, and what we can do to bring you relief on all fronts.

Chronic pain, depression, anxiety — a tangled web

It makes sense that dealing with pain can greatly affect your emotional state, making you feel more hopeless, sad, frustrated, or anxious than you normally feel.

When you have ongoing pain, however, your body and brain can get stuck in a stress mode, which can alter the balance of hormones, neurochemicals, and neural pathways in your body and brain. For example, this heightened state of stress leads to more cortisol production, and it can alter your production of dopamine and serotonin, as well as their pathways. These chemical alterations can all have a significant impact on your mental health.

Ongoing research underscores this biological connection as pain, anxiety, and depression share much of the same anatomy and many of the same mechanisms in your brain. For example, the area of your brain that registers sensations — the somatosensory cortex — directly interacts with the areas of your brain that regulate emotions and stress — your amygdala, hypothalamus, and anterior cingulate gyrus. 

The connection between chronic pain, anxiety, and depression gets even more complicated as the link is bidirectional, which means issues with anxiety and/or depression can trigger pain and alter your perceptions of pain — making them stronger.

Whatever the link between your pain and your mental health, you just know you’d like relief for both.

Treating your pain and your mental health

Recognizing the relationship between chronic pain and your mental health, we offer treatments for mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, as well as treatments for chronic pain.

We’ve had great success using ketamine infusion therapy, which can tackle both the pain and mental health issues like depression.

We administer the infusions in our offices, and they take about 40 minutes, though we do ask you to stay afterward for 2-4 hours so that we can monitor you. Most of our patients receive multiple infusions over the course of several weeks.

If you’d like to explore whether ketamine infusion therapy can improve your chronic pain, and your mental health, contact one of our offices in Fort Worth or Granbury, Texas, to set up a consultation.

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